|Stanley as a junior golfer.|
Then splash. Or, to be more accurate, ripples. Inexplicably, the golf ball went into the water.
Stanley’s three-quarters wedge shot flew beyond the hole but spun too hard, eventually trickling into the pond that fronts the 18th green. He ended up with a triple-bogey 8. Playoff. Brandt Snedeker bested Stanley on the second hole of sudden death when the PGA Tour sophomore caught the edge of the cup with his par try. It was over.
I couldn’t help but think of Kyle’s parents (Matt and Michelle) as I watched the playoff, how nervous they must be, the agony they must have felt as they watched Kyle stumble at the finish and head back out onto the course for the playoff.
I knew Matt and Michelle from periodic social events at Glendale Country Club in Bellevue, Washington, where my father-in-law, Ed, was a member. Matt and Ed were golf pals and friends. This was perhaps 15 years ago. Kyle was a kid, about 9 or 10. We used to watch him run around on the clubhouse lawn with his sister. There was a group of us that would gather for Memorial Day and Labor Day barbecues at Glendale. I wasn’t a member. I was a guest, a guy in the buffet line and an occasional “son” of Mel in the father-son tournament. It was an opportunity to eat too much and make small talk with people I saw twice a year.
There was Kyle throwing a baseball or football out on the grass with his older sister. Every once in a while he’d make a breathless pit stop at our table to check in with his mom and dad. That kid out on the lawn turned out to be a phenomenal golfer. He was an All-American at Clemson and won the 2009 Ben Hogan Award, the most prestigious award in men’s college golf. He then played on the Nationwide Tour before advancing through Q-School and joining the PGA Tour last season.
I remember seeing Kyle at the 2009 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, pounding balls on a sweltering August afternoon. I had a fleeting thought of saying something to him but quickly reconsidered. He wouldn’t know me. What would I say? I used to eat ribs and corn on the cob with your dad on Memorial Day weekend.
I still get occasional calls from my brother-in-law, John, who was also a part of that Glendale gathering. “Hey, did you hear about Kyle Stanley?” He made the cut at the U.S. Open. Or he’s near the lead in Boise (when he was playing the Nationwide Tour).
I got one of those “Kyle” messages a little more than a year ago from Karen, who along with her husband, Lance, also sat with us and the Stanleys in the Glendale dining room.
“Ever thought about looking into Kyle Stanley?” she wrote in an email. “He is not winning but I see on Sunday reports that he hangs around the 10-30 spot. Big Ed loved Kyle.”
Kyle Stanley will learn from his tragic finish at Torrey. He will win. I’m a believer. He has the talent, work ethic, character and determination. I hope it’s soon, this season. When that first win comes, it will be that much sweeter.
−The Armchair Golfer