Links Daily Devotional

True Greatness, Part 5

Humility comes before honor. (Proverbs 15:39, ESV)

Humidity wet my grips. Sweat was pouring in my eyes. My handkerchief felt like a washcloth from drying my forehead.

But as I turned to the tenth (and the last nine) of the Virginia Open I was right where I wanted to be. Three shots ahead of Tom Strange, father of Curtis Strange, and five ahead of the favorite, Chandler Harper, a nine-time winner.

I felt relieved. Chandler was the best player in Virginia, except for Sam Snead. Chandler was the man I had to beat. But at this point, he didn’t concern me. I knew he was good, but I was playing better.

He wasn’t that impressive. A slim man, short off the tee, though straight, he did have one of the best short games in golf. Snead said, “He could get it up and down from inside a shoe box.” For many years, Chandler held both the PGA record for the lowest number of putts for 18 holes (21) and the lowest score in a PGA Championship (70-63-63-63), which he carded at the Texas Open. He’d also won six PGA Tour event titles and one major, the PGA Championship, which was then match play, by beating three-time Masters Champion, Jimmy Demaret and Lloyd Mangrum in route.

I wanted to beat him as much as I wanted to win the tournament. I felt strong. With such heavy humidity, I thought he might tire. He was about 50, I was 29. All I needed was a par round, even one or two over, and I’d have the title.

The tenth was a short par-three hole, about 165 yards over water. Easy shot.

Out of nowhere, I chunked it. Plop. Played my third shot from almost the same place. Hit the green and three-putted. Six.

Triple.

OK. Just play your game, I told myself. The eleventh was a par-5, slight dogleg left. I nailed my drive with a slight draw. But instead of kicking left when it came down, it bounced straight ahead into the edge of the rough. Disappointing. But I could still make birdie.

More disappointment was ahead. I found my ball lying against the root of a tree. I hacked it out to the fairway, but it took me four more shots to finish.

Six on ten, six on eleven.

Chandler made three at ten, three at eleven.

In two holes I managed to lose six shots.

I limped in, lucky to finish third.

Have you ever noticed that golf has a way of humbling a person?

King Solomon said, “Humility comes before honor.” But he also said, “Pride comes before the fall.” That Virginia Open was only one of my many falls.

Last night, my wife, Lorraine, and I turned on the TV at 8:45 p.m. and caught the last act of America’s Got Talent. Alexa Narvaez, age seven, sat on her chair, her feet too short to touch the floor, and sang with such carefree joy that the crowd leaped to their feet as she concluded.

“She’s wonderful,” the judges said, as they shook their heads in amazement.

Pumping her right arm in the air, she ran off the stage in jubilation. Her father, Jorge, tagged behind carrying the guitar he used while accompanying her. They’re headed for the finals in Las Vegas.

The clothing little Alexa wore during her performance was guileless, spontaneous humility.

She was great.

And she was honored.

Whoever humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Jim Hiskey

May 17, 2012

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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday through Friday at www.linksplayers.com.