April 14, 2017

Reflection / Sean Gallagher

Garcia’s victory shows value of perseverance and acceptance

Sean GallagherGolf fans around the world were introduced to Sergio Garcia during the PGA Championship in 1999. Just 19 at the time, Garcia dueled Tiger Woods in the last major golf tournament of the year.

On the 16th hole during the final round, Garcia’s tee shot ended up just behind a tree trunk. The young Spaniard took a daring swing at the ball, sending it flying toward and eventually onto the green. After hitting the ball, Garcia memorably ran up the sloped fairway and jumped up into the air with a scissors kick to see where his shot ended up.

Although he finished second in the tournament to Woods, the golfing world expected that Garcia would soon win his first major tournament.

But that never happened—until he won the 2017 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga., on April 9, in a sudden death playoff against Justin Rose.

Over the past 18 years since that memorable PGA Championship, Garcia has won many tournaments around the world, started in 72 major tournaments and finished in the top 10 of them 22 times.

For a long time, Garcia felt pressure to win one of those famed tournaments. But in the past couple of years, as he moved toward the latter part of his career, he began to feel at peace with the thought that he might never win a major.

Maybe that was what helped him be so calm during his duel on the back nine on Sunday at The Masters against Rose. Holding the lead early in the final round, Garcia saw it slip away in the middle as Rose made a charge.

Then at the 13th hole, part of Augusta’s famed “Amen Corner,” Garcia put his tee shot into a bush and took a penalty. It looked like his chance to win his first major was fading away like it had so many times before.

But he scrambled from there with two great shots and a great putt to save par. Putting the bad tee shot behind him, Garcia then birdied the 14th hole and scored an amazing eagle 3 on the par 5 15th hole.

He and Rose were neck and neck for the rest of the round and into one extra hole before Garcia sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th green to win the Masters’ coveted green jacket, awarded to the tournament’s champion.

The story of Garcia’s career and his play in the 2017 Masters are dramatic reminders of the importance of the virtues of perseverance and acceptance.

God calls each us to persevere with the help of his grace through the many small and sometimes large crosses that he allows to come before us in our lives, following in the footsteps of our Lord who carried his cross and rose again for our redemption.

Our endurance of these trials in many instances is fueled by our vision of the goodness we’ll achieve on the other side of them. We might imagine the dream job we’ll land after years of education and hard work, climbing the ladder of our career, or picture in our minds the good health we will experience after a serious illness.

But there are times when God has other outcomes in store for us, and those cherished dreams of ours aren’t realized. At first, this can be a hard reality for us to accept. With prayer and the support of family and friends, though, we can come not only to an acceptance of our fate but, more importantly, to an understanding that what God is ultimately leading us to is better for us than what we could have imagined.

After years of striving to win dozens of pressure-packed major tournaments, Garcia had come to an acceptance that this goal might never be achieved. And then it happened.

Sometimes we can only realize our greatest goals by letting go of a driving desire to reach them.

In our life of faith, God calls us to use the talents with which he has blessed us to the best of our abilities. But, in the end, salvation is his gift alone.

It happens in the story of our lives that he has allowed to take shape in his providence. And the more that we come to realize that it’s outside of our sole control, the more God will open our eyes to see the life he has given us as a beautiful pathway leading to the joy of eternal life.

(Sean Gallagher is a reporter for The Criterion.)

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