Heartbreak And Victory: Kyle Stanley's Week On The PGA Tour | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Heartbreak And Victory: Kyle Stanley's Week On The PGA Tour

Professional golfer Kyle Stanley will forever remember Super Bowl Sunday 2012. And not because he's an over-the-top New York Giants — or Madonna — fan.

But because he won the unglamorously named Waste Management Phoenix Open on Sunday. And for Stanley, there was nothing trashy about his final-round 65 that secured a one-shot victory and his first on the PGA tour.

What will resonate most for the spindly 24-year-old is that Feb. 5 was his day of redemption. And really, in sport, or in life, who doesn't cherish a moment when they can say "I am somebody" after feeling the extreme opposite?

And in Stanley's case, feeling it so recently.

It was just last weekend, when Stanley stunningly and tearfully blew the three-shot lead he had on the 18th hole to lose the PGA event at fabled Torrey Pines in San Diego. The collapse prompted comparisons to cover-your-eyes golfing nosedives such as Jean Van de Velde at the 1999 British Open, Robert Garrigus at the 2010 St. Jude Classic and so many others.

Social media offered a balm — Stanley reportedly picked up nearly 4,000 sympathetic followers on Twitter in 24 hours; other golfers sent him text messages assuring Stanley they'd "been there done that" and exhorting him to hang in, which, it seems, he did.

In the interest of full disclosure, Stanley's win in Phoenix was as much Spencer Levin's loss. Levin, reprising Stanley's swoon from the weekend before, led by six at the start of Sunday's final round. A golfing nightmare ensued with balls flying into clumps of cactus, water — basically all the places golf balls are not supposed to be.

When the smoke cleared, it was steady Stanley who made up an eight-stroke deficit and grabbed the winner's trophy, a check for $1,098,000 and a spot in April's Masters tournament.

And irony of ironies? Stanley was the one offering Levin words of comfort.

"You know, I really feel for him, experiencing that," Stanley said, adding: "He's a very good player, way too good of a player to not bounce back or recover. I feel bad for him. I really do."

Levin dealt with his collapse in a matter-of-fact way.

"I just maybe tried a little too hard," he said, adding, "just wanting it a little too much, I think."

Maybe Levin wasn't overwrought because he knows he has this advantage: Instead of settling into a golfing rut, fighting demons for months, even years, he can simply look to the guy who beat him — Kyle Stanley, a motivational hero. Who would've thought it a week ago?

(Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent.)

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Weekend Musher Finds Dogs Keep Her Hanging On

Julia Bayly of Fort Kent, Maine, works as a reporter at the Bangor Daily News. Her passion outside of work is dog sledding. It's the latest installment in our hobby series "Alter Egos."
NPR

When Zero Doesn't Mean Zero: Trans Fats Linger In Food

One in 10 packaged foods still contains trans fats, according to a new study. The problematic oils give foods a rich taste and texture and extend shelf life, but have been linked to heart disease.
NPR

Rep. Ryan Calls For 'Culture Of Inclusion' To Tackle Poverty

Congressman and former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan discusses his new book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea.
NPR

New Amazon Series Pilots Fall Short Of A TV Revolution

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans ranks Amazon's new batch of five series pilots, asking why none of them seem break the rules of TV quite enough to draw attention.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.