Every player will start the year with one goal ' graduation. But in order to graduate from any worthwhile institution, a series of tests must be completed. Of course, the final exam is supposed to be the most thorough of them all.
The Buy.Com Tour Championship is designed to be that last hurdle for undergraduates. Last week, it was more like a protracted bar exam. Weather suspensions, a cancelled final round, and thoroughly difficult playing conditions all combined to test not only the players games, but also their characters. An emotional rollercoaster ride resulted from a start-and-stop final round after playing the third round under suspicion of it being the final round. Ultimately, it was reduced to 54 holes, but there were still 15 graduates who battled an entire season for the right to be presented that nifty little credit card looking thing that reads, PGA Tour Member 2003.
On the veranda of the Robert Trent Jones clubhouse in Prattville, Ala., Buy.com Tour COO Bill Calfee passed out those coveted cards. Family and friends gathered on the crowded makeshift TV set to watch as each of the 15 players were introduced. At this point, all other players in the field were gone, so there wasnt a long face in the crowd, but tears were plentiful in the eyes of proud parents and supportive wives.
Fifteen starry-eyed professionals stood there getting their pictures taken and answering all kinds of questions. You could sense their collective feeling of accomplishment. For three of them, it will be their second chance - each having played one previous year as a member. For two, Marco Dawson and Doug Barron, its a chance to say that their careers are back on track. But for 10 of them, its the culmination of a lifes work. Its the realization of a life-long goal. And its literally a dream come true.
Most players who chase that little white ball for a living will spend their entire career battling the odds. By sheer numbers, the odds say that they wont make it. But thats the funny thing about dreams, they dont care much about the odds. When a dream is pursued, its pursued from the heart, not the mind. And if the heart says its possible, the oddsmakers are ignored.
Anyone who has ever chased a dream knows full well just how elusive it can be. Fast little devils those dreams are. But thats the beauty of the Buy.Com Tour. Its not about odds, its about opportunity. Its not about entitlement, its about pursuit. And its not about intellect, its about passion.
For those fortunate 15, their pursuit was successful, their opportunity was redeemed, and their passion was validated. They stood there looking to the future; each hoping that 2003 would bring the same reward. All the while, each knows that, odds are, the best they can hope for is about half of them having a successful year. But once again, none of that matters because they have dreamed of this moment the entire year.
That dream they have spent a life time chasing had finally been caught. Starting next January, their dreams will no longer be chased. Theyll be playing the PGA Tour ' and thats where dreams are lived.
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