Janzen Makes the Loving Sacrifice


The idea first came to Lee Janzen as he was watching last years Father/Son tournament on television. He suddenly thought of the late Payne Stewarts son, Aaron, and he thought of how Payne would most certainly want to tee it up with Aaron at a tournament such as this. And he thought about how that Aaron, unfortunately, would never have a chance.
And then Janzen saw Arnold Palmer playing with his grandson in the tournament. Hmmm, it doesnt strictly HAVE to be a persons father who accompanies his son to the course. Maybe, thought, Janzen, there is hope for Aaron after all.
Janzen fulfilled the requirement of having won a major championship ' he triumphed twice at the U.S. Open. Stewart was a major championship winner at a PGA and a U.S. Open. Maybe Janzen could fill in.
He inquired of the tournament sponsors, and they said yes. He inquired of Aarons mother Tracey, and she was OK with it. So, voila ' here they are today, in the field at ChampionsGate Resort in Orlando ' father-figure and 15-year-old buddy.
I just thought about how much I want to play in it someday (with his own son, Connor, now 11), said Janzen. And then I thought, I wonder if the kids think about it that way, playing with their dad.
Then I started thinking about Aaron ' what does he feel like? I bet hed really ' hed say, Id be playing with my dad now if he were here.
Stewart was Janzens victim in both of Lees Open wins. But the truth is, they were very close friends. Janzen lives near the Stewart family in Orlando. And when the idea for the tournament crossed his mind, he couldnt pass it up.
Its something for Aaron to enjoy, said Janzen. I know the opportunity for him to be able to play in this tournament didnt look like it was going to be there.
Its really all about him. And it looks like hes having a good time so far. Were going to have fun this weekend, too.
Im just trying to be Aarons friend.
And Aaron is overwhelmed by Janzens act of kindness. He, too, thought his chance of playing in the tournament were dashed forever by his fathers tragic plane accident.
I really appreciate what Lee did for me, said Aaron, because I know if my dad were here, Id be playing with him in this tournament. Hes a good family friend of ours and I really appreciate what Lees done.
Aaron is 15 years old now, already 6 feet tall but weighing only 150 pounds. Hes grown six inches the past year. A sophomore at Olympia High School in Orlando, he played on the golf team which placed second in its district.
Of course, he hopes to follow his father into a professional golf career. And he has the potential, if not exactly Stewarts classic swing.
His swing is a bit different than mine, said Aaron. His swing was long and graceful. Mine is a bit more modern ' shorter, with more positions. But Im a feel player like he was.
A chip off the old block he is in personality only, Aaron says. The facial resemblance - he doesnt think so.
A few people say I look like him, but I really dont see it that much, said Aaron.
Oh ' one other thing. Dont expect son Aaron to wear father Paynes plus-fours on the course.
Ahhhh ' its possible, but like my mom says, youve got to go out there and be your own person. You cant live in his (Paynes) shadow, said Aaron.
He thinks about his fathers career often. He remembers the times his dad lost to Janzen ' and the times his dad won.
I remember 98 (when Janzen outdueled Stewart at Olympic), said Aaron. Lee played really good that round. My dad played his best and really handled it well. But Lee really played great. Lee was always a real gentleman in winning AND losing.
But the Open at Pinehurst in 99, when his father won ' thats the tape that gets the most viewing time in the Stewart household.
I watch it a lot, just to see how he handled the pressure, Aaron says. My sister and I were not there. But my mom was. I was at a friends house. I went crazy when he made that putt. Everyone was jumping around and screaming ' it was awful.
Aaron realizes what a long road is ahead if he ever wants to play like Payne. But he knows how he can get there ' if he wants to pay the price.
I've just got to be patient with it, he says. But I think the only way Im going to get there is through hard work.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Father/Son Challenge