Thursday’s first round of the Charles Schwab Cup at the Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, opened with Colin Montgomerie in first place for the cup point race, Jeff Maggert in second and — cue the shark music from Jaws — Bernhard Langer in third. They are the only ones with a chance.
Montgomerie and Maggert were paired in the last group, Langer in the next to last. Montgomerie didn’t move the needle until he made bogey on the 8th. Maggert bogeyed the 1st, got it back on the 5th and made double on the 7th.
Meanwhile, Langer birded the 2nd and then went on a four-birdie run beginning on the 5th. At that point the media center was buzzing with the seeming inevitability of a really good round, the Cup race turned upside down. He got to 7-under through 13 and then cruised to the finish with a couple of tidy sand saves.
When he was finally able to get into the media center he looked centered: calm, very relaxed and with easy eye movement. When it was my turn to ask a question, I went right to the thing I was most interested in, how he was able to turn in such an easy looking round.
Q. Given what you’ve been doing here this season, this start today seemed like relentless, almost inevitable. We were sitting here [in the media center] watching birdie after birdie after birdie and here you are 7 under. Did you do anything in particular to get yourself up for this or is this just went out and played?
BERNHARD LANGER: No, I just — you know, I’m a Christian so I had my quiet time this morning and I just figured it’s in God’s hand. He’s in control and I’m just to going to try and enjoy myself and do the best I can to glorify Him. That’s really all. I’m playing to an audience of one, that’s Him, and I felt tremendous peace today, I really did. That’s when I play my best, you know, when I’m not bothered by anything, I’m just walking along enjoying the scenery and having a blast playing golf and doing it well. So it’s the gift He’s given me and I’ve worked hard at it and today we saw the fruit of the labor.
The LPGA’s Gerina Piller told me basically the same thing when I interviewed her at the Founder’s Cup four years ago. And when I finished my research for the post, I found a reference on her rookie blog to Joshua 1:9. When I looked it up, it fit perfectly with everything she told me — and everything Bernard told me last year and this:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
While I was raised a Christian, I have been estranged from the church for most of my adult life. But in making my way down my own spiritual path — an anomaly that began with my pursuit of my Champions Tour card and the everyday miracles that someone was producing — I ended up in the same place as Bernhard and Gerina.
With that newfound belief in God, I began to have a better understanding of myself. When the spiritual teachings led me to the concept that we are all of God, that gave me a peace that has stayed with me to this day.
Through golf’s ups and downs — and yes, even life’s ups and downs — I know that God’s hand is in my life and it settles me. Does that always mean that I’m going to shoot my best round ever or life’s disappointments will end easily? Of course not. After all, none of us are going to get out of this life alive. Disappointments are part of life’s lessons. And because they sting so much, some of life’s best lessons.
But if you can just get to that point where you believe that someone is watching over you, no matter the outcome, you can achieve the same peace that Bernhard, Gerina and I feel. And that’s a far better place to play golf from.