It is often said that there is nothing like the back nine at Augusta National on Sunday afternoon, and this Sunday was no exception. What started out as a probable landmark victory (if there ever was such a notion in golf) for Rory McIlroy quickly turned into one of the most memorable and Masters Tournaments in recent history. In the end, Charl Schwartzel triumphed as the victor with many worthy opponents within striking distance.

With a four-stroke lead to open the round, many believed it was McIlroy’s to lose, and eventually he did lose it. Charl Schwartzel did play a fantastic round of golf, but had McIlroy played the way he had been playing all week, the tournament was well within his grasp. Unfortunately for McIlroy, his grasp quickly slipped, and he allowed a half-dozen other players the opportunity to make claims on the coveted Green Jacket.

There was so much excitement between, Tiger, Adam Scott, Bo Van Pelt, Geoff Ogilvy, and Jayson Day that once the sun had set at Augusta National, I could not help but a bit confused as to what I had just witnessed. What started as a one man show quickly became a sprint to the finish and then boom – just like your first hole in one, it was over before you realized what just happened..

I am genuinely happy for Schwartzel, however I cannot help but feel sorrow for McIlroy. Sure, he has money, fame and all the perks that go with being one of the best golfers in the world, but in the end, he wants to win. Money cannot buy him a Green Jacket – not the one he wants anyway. He had been extremely outspoken about his preparation being tailored directly for the Masters, and the first three days, he showed everyone some amazing golf. Unfortunately, on this fateful Sunday afternoon at Augusta, and the only day that truly matters, he was not able to retain his place atop the leader board.

I was intrigued to see what his response would be after the round, and I believe the way he carried himself after shooting 80 was more impressive than any of the golf he played. He answered the questions with patience, respect, and showed tremendous composure after such an agonizing day.

I’ll remember Schwartzel for winning this Masters, but I will remember McIlroy even more for the composure and class he showed after the round. I hope all of us handle defeat, in whatever area of life this might occur, with such grace and humility. Losing is tragic, but what is even more tragic is not learning and growing from the experience. My hope is that all (including Rory) will be able to use what is learned through defeat to catapult us onward to success in the future.

 

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