By Ann Liguori
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Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.
As I was entering the media tent to cover this final round of the U.S. Open, a woman security guard asked me, “Did you call your dad to tell him happy Father’s Day?” I smiled and nodded, but the truth is my dad passed away from stomach cancer when I was a junior in college. So before I continue, I wish all of you who lost their fathers a day of fond memories and love.
My dad was everything to me. His bright blue eyes always had a twinkle, and his face was always smiling. He had a kind word for everyone. He was always so genuinely curious about everyone he met. I’d like to think he passed that quality on to me. We used to tease him that he could find out everything about a person just by chatting with them in a few minutes. He was a “people person.”
When I was growing up, he and my mom encouraged my every endeavor. They drove me around the Midwest to tennis tournaments and to every sport I participated in during my years growing up in Brecksville, Ohio. Like many parents, they spent hours in the car transporting my brothers Jim and Dan and sister Jean to all our extracurricular activities.
At one tennis tournament I was playing in, my dad watched as I double-faulted several times in one set. I was so upset at myself. My dad at first couldn’t understand how I could falter and serve a ball into the net or outside the service box. And then one day he was watching Jimmy Connors on the television play a match, and he came to me and apologized. He said, ‘If Jimmy Connors can double-fault, I guess you can, too!'” We laughed, as he was educating himself about the game.
As the final round of the U.S. Open begins on a beautiful Sunday in Pinehurst, we think of the great Payne Stewart, who won his memorable U.S. Open title here in 1999 and four months later, tragically perished in a plane crash. We think of his beautiful family, who are here with warm memories and sad hearts.
And speaking of heart, we think of the inspirational Erik Compton, who is tied with Rickie Fowler for second place after three rounds. Compton has had two heart transplants, one when he was 12 years old and another 16 years later. This is only his second U.S. Open. At the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, he missed the cut.
Compton takes a bunch of pills every day for his heart and, more often than not, doesn’t feel that great. But he’s tied for second going into the final round of the U.S. Open, five shots behind the leader, Martin Kaymer. If that doesn’t give you goose bumps, nothing will.
Kaymer’s play has been spectacular. Even after his 2-over 72 yesterday, I was impressed. The way he recovered on the fourth hole, saving bogey by draining a 15-footer and his approach shot on the par-5 fifth hole from the sandy area to within five feet of the cup were two highlights from Round 3. He’s been incredible on the greens, draining long putts and making clutch par saves.
Most important, he’s a nice, humble 29-year-old. He’s quite articulate and thoughtful. My dad would have liked him. My mom, whom I adore, is of German descent and she loves the guy.
Hope all of you fathers who love golf enjoy the final round with family and friends.
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