Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hope and love - in golf?

It has been said that golf has caused many marriage and relationship break ups. The joke often told amongst golfers certainly shows that golf sometimes takes over our lives a little too much:

On a nice Saturday morning this summer I'm having a game with a man, 25 years old. Getting ready to putt on the second hole, we see that a woman is madly running towards us in a wedding gown. The young man with me looks at her and calmly says:" I told you: only if it rains!"

Seriously though there has been some sad marriage break ups for golf professionals. Colin Montgomerie believed he played better after his divorce, Nick Faldo has had his break-ups plasted all over the media and we all know about the recent John Daily Saga. For us mere mortals (in a golf sense) there is help available when we go through a nasty break up and whether golf was the cause or not counseling may help.

For every dear john letter and nasty divorce there is a story of hope and love. Stuart Appleby the gifted Australian golfer was on top of the world 1998, playing wonderful golf and was absolutely madly in love with his wife Renay White. From reports from friends and family the couple was one of those couples of which everyone else is jealous - perfect for each other. Tragically during a second honeymoon in London (they were about to visit Paris) Renay was killed by a car backing up as she waited with Stuart for a taxi.

Stuart Appleby, empty, came to the PGA Championship four days after last taking flowers to Renay's grave. He asked to do a press conference. He came to the dais a haunted man, unshaven, stricken, weeping and brave as hell. He called Renay "first prize of a raffle in life."

Hardly surprisingly, his life was totally transformed by Renay's untimely passing. Almost two years later, he was still struggling to come to terms with it.

"At it's worst, it's really, really tough," he said during a teleconference on the PGA Tour. "Somehow you manage, whether that's an inner strength or something else, I don't know. Other times you don't.

"Sometimes you say flat out: 'Listen, I can't do this. It's just too much for me right now', and you just don't. You take weeks off.

"It's at your own speed. There's no time frame except what is comfortable."

However, the story doesn't end there. He won the 2001 Australian Open and produced his best finish at a major the following year when he tied for second in the British Open.

In 2003, Appleby clinched the Las Vegas Invitational before ending the PGA Tour season 12th in the money list with earnings of $2,662,538.

Most significantly, though, he also found personal happiness and the highlight of that year was his marriage to Ashley. In 2004 he won the Mercedes Championship and after recovering from such a tragedy he was a most deserving winner. Exactly one year later as if Renay was watching from above he won the Mercedes Championship for the second time and he became a father for the first time to begin a new chapter of his life

Hope and love in golf - You bet!

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