Once upon a time, there was a little boy who lived in Spain.
His father was a golf professional who lived a fairly unobtrusive lifestyle. The little boy, under the guidance of his father, began to play golf. In a very short time, all of the townsfolk could see that this small boy named Sergio was blessed with an unusual amount of skill.
As days and months passed, Sergio’s remarkable skills improved until, not only were the local citizens proclaiming his astonishing feats, countrywide media were developing the story.
Over time, the small boy became internationally renowned for his golfing prowess, but in his heart, he was still a small boy from a small town in Spain.
His golf skills were enhanced at every turn, but since golf is an individual sport, little Sergio was excluded from some of the life-skill teaching activities that the other children enjoyed.
In many ways, he was truly a man but in many others he simply didn’t get exposure to some of the lessons others learned along the road of hard knocks. He had been protected and yet thrust into scenes that he didn’t have the skills to manage.
At roughly the same time, there was a small boy born in America. He, too, was taught by his father. His name was Eldrick, or Tiger. He, too, had exceptional natural talent to play golf ,but his father was a bit worldlier than Sergio’s.
Tiger’s father had served in the military and travelled extensively which might have given him a slight edge in how he viewed raising children.
Nevertheless, regardless of parental influence, some people simply remain innocent, a bit naive and even somewhat childlike more than others. In my opinion, Sergio qualifies as being a little more trusting than Tiger. Tiger was sophisticated and mature beyond his years.
As these two men lived their lives, careers intermingling, successes attained, failures endured, each has made an excellent account of themselves. Inevitably, from time to time, they have run head-on into each other. We are in the midst of one of those times.
While it has been ongoing, it rarely hits you like a Mack truck.
Recently, there was the accusation by Sergio that Tiger had employed some gamesmanship at the Players Championship. The entailing series of overhands followed by several backhand lobs volleyed the golf world courtside into a silly match.
Next came Sergio’s verbal goof at the European Tour’s Awards Dinner. As crazy as this might sound coming from me, a person who has not one thing on the surface to discriminate against, I do recall one possible situation that gave me grief.
While in grade 6, I was tall for my age (I’m still tall for my age) and my teacher asked me a question that I answered incorrectly. The fact that he disliked me with extreme passion was shared equally by me for him.
As I stood there beside my desk, he suddenly yelled at me “Schurman, how can someone as big as you be so stupid”? The pain shot through me like a flaming arrow. It still hurts almost 60 years later.
I didn’t want to be stupid and, quite frankly, I didn’t want to be so tall. I could have settled for about 6-2 instead of 6-7; most certainly clothes would have cost less, cars and airplanes would have been more comfortable and golf easier.
My point is that my teacher made a remark that exposed his inner feelings.
I don’t know if it was generated through malice or his own insensitive stupidity. I do know it hurt and it affected the rest of my days at school. I never really got on the right educational track after that until I went to night school in my 30s.
I don’t think Sergio’s comment was malicious in intent, but I do know that there are people who will think it was humourous.
On the other hand, there are those who will be offended by it — there is a delicate line between the two.
I can’t begin to surmise how Tiger feels when he hears these things, but I do know what I wish. I wish I had been given the strength to ignore it.
My life would have been easier.