I don’t pretend to be a phenomenal golfer.
I enjoy the occasional round on the links where I usually hit a great shot or two, quite a few decent shots and, of course, a wide variety of swing-and-cringe shots.
But as a sports reporter, I’ve had the opportunity to play with some incredibly talented golfers — including Tony Finau.
A number of years ago, I joined Finau for a round of golf at East Bay Golf Course and I could only look on in awe as the powerful golfer gunned for the greens on some of the par-5 holes.
Although his abilities were on display, the best part of that day was just getting a chance to get to know Finau. He’s a friendly, positive guy who made things fun, even though my own shots were mediocre at best.
I’ve talked to him a number of times since then as he continues to improve and earn his place among the elite golfers in the world, and he’s always been just as cordial as we have discussed his experiences.
That friendship made this week that much more exciting as I watched Finau compete in the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock Hills.
Seeing him make his push in the third round to tie for first and get in the final group for Sunday was thrilling and I was pulling for him to make the shots he needed down the stretch.
I felt the disappointment when Finau had the rough start to his last round, then the optimism as he put together some good holes.
I even was hoping for a miracle on his second shot on No. 18 (even though it was from the rough), since if he had holed out he would’ve tied for first and forced a playoff.
But he ended up tagged with a double-bogey, resulting in him dropping a couple of spots.
Even though the chance was there for something truly special, I still feel very happy for him and his family. According to the official payout numbers, Finau won $469,460 with his fifth-place finish.
To me, having a golfer from Utah (who lives in Lehi now) put together that impressive of a performance capped the most impressive week of golf in the state this year.
I spent much of the week at the 2018 Utah State Amateur Championship, watching more than 280 of the best amateur golfers battle for the top spot.
Even though it was odd to not have a BYU golfer in the final (it was the first time in four years a Cougar didn’t win), I talked a little bit to 15-year-old Preston Summerhays who was unstoppable as he became the youngest winner of the 120-year-old event.
As much as I enjoyed seeing Finau, Summerhays and dozens of other excellent golfers compete both in person and on TV, I had one main takeaway:
Every golfer — no matter the level — has shots they wished they hit better.
There is no place to hide in this sport. At some point, you have to step up, hit it and see what happens.
Whether it is Finau competing against the best in the world, or Summerhays competing against the best in the state, or me competing against a friend, there will be moments that the ball simply doesn’t do what you want.
But no matter who is playing, the greatest part of golf is that even in those moments you get another chance.
There is always another shot, another hole, another opportunity.
And who knows just when that amazing shot that exceeds your expectations is going to occur? They are indescribable.
That is why I love both watching and playing golf.
Old or young, experienced or beginning, pro or amateur or casual, there is always the chance that the next swing is going to be something remarkable.