OSU golf has won 10 NCAA team championships. Eight Cowboys have won the NCAA individual title. Bob Tway won the PGA Championship. Scott Verplank, as an amateur, won the PGA's Western Open.
But OSU golf's finest hour came over the weekend, when Hunter Mahan withdrew from a tournament.
With a two-stroke lead and already at 13-under par in the Canadian Open, Mahan left the Glen Abbey course, hurried to the airport and caught a flight to Dallas to be with his wife, who had gone into labor with their first child.
Mahan, an OSU star from 2001-03, this summer was in final-round contention at both the U.S. Open and British Open was headed for the Canadian trophy, which eventually went to Brandt Snedeker, who won at 16-under. Mahan, who shot 67-64 before his wife's water broke, could have won the Canadian's cool $1 million payday with back-to-back 70s.
Instead, he made a memory that trumps any tournament-winning putt and let his wife, Kandi, know exactly where his priorities lay.
The Canadian Open isn't a major, but it's not on the Web.com Tour, either. Winning a PGA Tour event is a special moment for every golfer this side of Tiger and Phil. Mahan has won five times in 10 years on the tour; these things don't come along very often.
Yet he walked away from a possible (likely?) victory, because some things are more important than sport.
That's a truth we all say but not all live by.
And don't write this off as a golf thing. I know golf embraces its genteel culture, but the truth is, golfers are as competitive as any other athletes. Golf has tens of thousands technically elite players; competitive drive is one of the factors that culls the field to the couple of hundred worldwide able to excel.
Golfers want to win as much as boxers or goalies or shortstops or linebackers do.
Do golfers have their priorities more in line than other athletes? I don't know. Phil Mickelson famously carried a pager during the 1999 U.S. Open and said he would leave Pinehurst, no matter the situation, if he learned his wife had gone into labor. Amy Mickelson did go into labor but decided not to inform her husband, who finished a stroke behind Payne Stewart but still made it back to his wife in time for the birth.
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