My favorite moment of year also was one of the most frustrating.
I was 30,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean during Monday’s final round of the Open Championship. And it was my own fault.
During Saturday’s weather-delayed round it was announced that there would be a Monday finish. I took a gander at the leaderboard, was less than thrilled with what I saw, and made the executive decision to depart St. Andrews on Monday as originally planned. My colleagues Rex Hoggard and Ryan Lavner contacted travel agents to schedule flights out on Tuesday.
Twenty-four hours later Jordan Spieth shot a third-round 66 and was a shot off the lead heading into the final round and firmly in a great position to collect the third leg of the single-season Grand Slam. I scrambled to change travel plans but, of course, there were no options available. None.
On Monday, there was no Internet access on the plane. As much as I tried to convince myself that this could be a positive experience – you know, it’s healthy to be disconnected from the world for an eight-hour span every once in a while, right? – it drove me bonkers. I was a mess. Even though there was nothing I could do, I just knew that I was missing out on history. I was at the Masters and the U.S. Open and if I was the idiot who jumped on a plane and missed this type of greatness I would never live it down with anyone I know.
The moment we touched down in Atlanta I turned on my phone and sorted through text messages and tweets to see that Jason Day was standing over a putt on the 18th green to join a playoff and Spieth was on the side of the green lamenting a poor drive and wedge shot that would lead to par and keep him out of the playoff by a shot. It was bittersweet. I was bummed Spieth wouldn’t take his Grand Slam quest to the PGA Championship, but relieved that I didn’t miss something epic.
I got off the plane, cleared customs and found a sports bar in the Atlanta airport, where I watched Zach Johnson collect the claret jug. Three hours later I was reunited with my family and all was right with the world again.