A Guy Who Just Lets It Be

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It was the money ' once again. This was in May, and he had made less than $2,000 for the year. Time to start some serious fretting.
 
His house in Southern California doesnt come cheaply, you know. Jason Gores mind was whirring as he made another trip to the grocery store ' and incidentally, didnt his six-month-old baby need formula again? He sighed and was seriously thinking about getting a 9-to-5, a real job where the income is guaranteed every Friday.
 
Lo and behold, the world was about to go topsy-turvy for Jason Gore.
 
First of all, there was the U.S. Open in June, where he played alongside Retief Goosen in the final pairing Sunday. He played horribly that particular day ' so did Goosen ' but both got a ton of respect for the way they carried themselves on a day when neither could break 80. Then Gore went back to the Nationwide Tour and won three events ' in succession, no less - and suddenly leaped to the big tour.
 
Now the big guy is a PGA Tour winner. Last weekend he hung tough to win the 84 Lumber Classic. With a first-place check of $792,000 in his pocket, he wont have to sweat out the mortgage for a long, long while. And baby? Well, baby could be slurping down caviar along with his formula today.
 
Jason doesnt really know if he is dreaming. He realizes that he has become something of a folk hero with golf fans across America, what with his anti-athlete build and his all-around good-guy personality. What you see here is everymans blueprint for success - the guy-next-door works his rear off, and that work finally is paying dividends. Basically, you have to stop the complaining and start the sweating.
 
You know, sometimes you just have to quit whining and pick yourself up and move on, said Gore. And that's kind of what I did - with the help of some loyal and faithful right foots to the butt.
 
That was just kind of what it was - just shake yourself off and keep moving. I think that was a big thing really about the Open. I didn't sit back and go back to the room and cry and woe-is-me kind of thing. Just, Hey, that was pretty cool. That was really about it.
 
He realizes that yesterday is yesterday and tomorrow is tomorrow
 
The best players in the world have often said that you can never be satisfied. I mean, you can be happy with what you've done, but you can't be satisfied with what you're doing. And you just have to keep working hard and continue to strive to be the best ... I think that's what I'm going to try to do, put it in the pocket and keep on going.
 
Gore is 31 now, and nearly a decade of playing professional golf has made him consider life from a very realistic viewpoint. The first three days of the U.S. Open were great, but he says he didnt really have a chance ' he had an opportunity. And it was the opportunity to learn that was important as the win, not just the opportunity to win.
 
It was a great learning experience, he said, and I took that learning experience back to the Nationwide Tour and had a little bit of success. It was a wonderful day, and I don't think I'd like to change it. But you can't, and you take what you can out of it and go from there.
 
And it was an A-1 lesson to get to see Goosen handle the horrors of the last day. He says all he had to do was look at Goosen ' a man who had won two U.S. Opens but who today was in the throes of shooting an 81.
 
He's a good dude, a great guy, said Gore of his playing partner that day. To be able to walk off the 18th green - I mean, all this stuff even happening, he was acting like a champion. He is a champion, and he's a gentleman.
 
I think that was really important for me to see, too, just to see how really solid this guy was and how it really didn't matter. It was just a golf tournament. It might have been the U.S. Open, but we're going to wake up the next day and nobody is going to lose a finger. It was pretty cool to see a true champion act like that.
 
Lesson learned. An opportunity which wasnt wasted, even if a chance for a win was.
 
Like I said before, we get to play a game for a living, he said. And that's really my perspective on what it comes down to, what really matters.
 
Gore told the story of sitting down once with an analyst friend of his and hearing an interesting yarn. It was about Fred Astaire, and how he would put chalk down on the sidewalk and start practicing his moves. And when the music began, he just danced, said Jason. That's kind of the way it is.
 
You can go out on the range, beat balls, work on your golf swing, but once you get to the first tee, just go dance. And that's really kind of what it was. I just kind of forgot about where my right arm needs to be or where my hand needs to be, just go have a good time, hit it, chase it and find it and hit it again.
 
And he told a story about a letter he had received following the Open, one written to him by a gentleman who watched the final round with a father who was dying of cancer. 'Keep watching this kid, Gore remembers the father saying.
 
It was like a tender moment, one of their last moments together. It's a father-son.
 
It's pretty well documented how my relationship with my dad was, and that was pretty touching to know that it really wasn't just me - it was just somebody in that position being the all-American story of Mr. Underdog and fighting and clawing his way up to do that. It was really pretty cool to know that I was involved in such a wonderful moment - or a tragic moment, if you want to look at it that way. That was pretty special.
 
Jason Gore may not be the second coming of Ben Hogan. But he is the first coming of Jason Gore. And that, it seems, is more than sufficient.
 
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