Joined The Augusta Chronicle in 1996 after spending nine years at The Aiken Standard. Served as copy editor, South Carolina bureau chief and Metro Editor before being named Sports Editor in April 2000.
Posted June 15, 2012 12:35 am

U.S. Open: A real-life struggle

SAN FRANCISCO -- I saw a man fight for his life Thursday at the U.S. Open.


A gentleman collapsed near the 15th tee at Olympic Club. I was out following the Zach Johnson, Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh grouping when I noticed a small commotion. When I saw the San Francisco policeman assigned to the group go over and start CPR, I knew it was serious.

Someone said he just collapsed and hit his head on the concrete cart path.

I watched from a respectful distance, and I prayed for the man. I wasn't alone.

The volunteers working the hole called for backup. Paramedics arrived on the scene pretty quickly.  They took turns administering CPR, and then I heard someone say "clear." It appeared they had used a defibrillator.

The golfers all showed concern, and they waited a few minutes before continuing. Finally, the paramedics put the man on the cart and took off.

Johnson asked the policeman if they had revived him, and the officer nodded and said he was breathing when he left. Johnson was visibly relieved.

It was a surreal scene as play came to a halt in that particular corner of Olympic. Rowers on nearby Lake Merced went about their business. Cheers erupted from nearby holes.

The group playing directly behind the Johnson group included 14-year-old Andy Zhang. The youngest competitor in U.S. Open history was subjected to a real-life drama playing out on a postcard-like day.

I wish I knew for certain that the man is alive and doing well. I made some inquiries but to no avail. All we can do is hope for the best.

Too often sportswriters use bad metaphors that compare games to war, or they write that certain situations or life and death. Unfortunately, these phrases have entered the sports vocabulary. The Masters and many other golf tournaments use "sudden death" to determine a winner in case of a tie. How often do you hear announcers say it's "do or die?" You get the picture.

I know I have been guilty of using such phrases in the past, but I vow to be more mindful of it in the future.

I have seen the struggles of championship golf, and I have seen a man struggle to breathe.

There is a huge difference.