Ahead in the Count

Nice Guys Finish First…And Second.

As I sit here typing, Angel Cabrera and Kenny Perry are walking back to the 10th tee at Augusta for their second sudden-death playoff hole.

I’ve seen some tremendous acts of sportsmanship from these two men today that I believe are worth mentioning. Perry and Cabrera started the day as the leaders and are now the only two men remaining. On numerous occasions, Cabrera has given Perry a subtle “thumbs-up” after a nice recovery or a good putt. When Cabrera made a 6-footer on the 18th hole to force a playoff, it was Perry who stood on the side of the green applauding Angel’s remarkable par after hitting his drive into the woods and hitting a tree on his second shot. While these simple gestures of acknowledgement and encouragement are fairly common among amateur golfers, to see two professional golfers root for each other on the final day of the Masters was a refreshing sight.

I love watching Tiger. He is without a doubt the greatest golfer of all time and is as fierce a competitor as we will ever see. However, he is also well known for his cold demeanor on the course – he would call it laser focus – and often goes entire rounds without uttering a single word to his playing partner or even acknowledging his presence. I’ve also started to grow tired of the Tiger putter toss followed by that incredulous look he gets after missing a putt as if it was the green’s fault that the ball didn’t roll the way he wanted it to. This is to take absolutely nothing away from Tiger – he’s a great athlete, an amazing competitor, and I almost always find myself rooting for him down the stretch of any tournament he plays.

However, it was great to see two genuinely nice guys root for each other for 18 holes and end up as the last two men standing. They clearly both love and respect the game and are both obviously ultra-competitive athletes with a tremendous will to win.

Today, Kenny Perry and Angel Cabrera exemplified beautifully how wanting to win and treating the game and your opponents with respect are in no way mutually exclusive.

April 12, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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