Golf’s Mysterious Side

As I approach my final semesters of college, I’m happily looking forward to trading in lecture halls for golf courses, both in my weekend leisure as well as my weekly education. I might be graduating in May 2014, but the education aspect won’t leave me. If you look at it the right way, those golf courses are just like lecture halls. There are areas to learn everywhere.

And one of the many lessons the golf course constantly teaches me, and many other golfers, is that you just never know. You just never know how things are going to work out between tee and green.

The straightest shots at the driving range are the most crooked on holes 1-18. And even if they run straight, they might run right into bunker. You just never know. Under the simplicity of that, there is much more to golf’s mysterious side.

Those lessons were everywhere last weekend. In Scotland, the Open Championship seemed like a four- or five-horse race, headlined by Englishman Lee Westwood owning a two-stroke lead in pursuit of his first major victory. He was being chased by Tiger Woods, the number one golfer in the world. There was Hunter Mahan lurking, also chasing his first major victory.

Where was Phil Mickelson? Five shots back and seemingly out of luck and chances to win his first British Open. But then, halfway through Sunday’s final round, Mickelson was just hanging around. I guess you could say he was in contention, though still multiple shots off the lead.

Then he hit two of the best 3-wood shots of his career, a complete surprise to anyone, including himself. In the end, his final round 66 placed him three shots clear of the field and the only pro under par. He climbed over eight golfers and shot the best round of the tournament (maybe the best round of his life), and won his first British Open. In golf, you just never know.

Meanwhile, closer to home, a Wisconsin golfer found similar fortunes. Jordan Niebrugge, from Mequon, Wis., faced Michael Kim Saturday in the championship match of the U.S. Amateur Public Links tournament in Lorton, Virginia.

Kim was the number two ranked amateur in America while Niebrugge was slotted at 114th. But stats don’t decide who wins a golf tournament; strokes do. Niebrugge jumped out to an early four-hole lead against the top college golfer in the nation.

That golfer would launch a comeback attack at Niebrugge, bringing the match to the final hole, where the Oklahoma State sophomore-to-be finished off his impressive week with the championship.

He is now invited to play Augusta National in the 2014 Masters, a site that was surely off his radar. Fortunately for him, in golf, you just never know.