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Singular Effort: U.S. Wins Inaugural PTGL Match
Montego Bay, Jamaica. The U.S. rode a 17-4 surge in the singles matches to power their way to a 27-11 victory in the Inaugural Pro Team Golf League U.S. vs. Canada team golf event. San Antonio's Anthony Rodriguez slammed home a stunning 15-foot putt on the seventh hole to secure a 3 & 2 win over Canada's Dustin Risdon and tally the five points needed to make the U.S. lead at the time an insurmountable 22-7. An emotional Rodriguez, named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player by the assembled media, choked back tears as he invited his father to share the stage with him during his acceptance speech
"When one door closes, another one opens," he said candidly. "We were sitting around the table at Thanksgiving and my dad said God had a plan for me. There was a purpose in my not getting through the second stage of Q school. I am so grateful to the PTGL for giving not only me but all these great players this chance." He then raised the victory cup with one arm and his father's arm in the other as flashbulbs popped and gatherers applauded.
�A-Rod,� as he�s affectionately known to the players and fans, then gave a nod to his wife Kim who was at home in San Antonio pregnant with the couple�s first child. He wept as he reminisced that �she�s in her third trimester with Leo Anthony Rodriguez, Jr, aka Little Boomster. I wish she could have been here for this.�
�That was such a humble and dignified speech,� said Shana Gangruff, wife of U.S. teammate Stephen Gangruff. �He epitomizes exactly how graceful and grateful all the players are,� she said admiringly. Indeed, A-Rod proved PTGL Commissioner Dave Braun prophetic when he said, �A lot of dreams came true today.�
A far cry from his baseball counterpart, a $252-million headache for the New York Yankees, this A-Rod responded to the pressure every time, scoring a whopping 10 points in amassing a 3-0-0 record. �He really deserved it and showed he was a winner on and off the course,� noted Shelly Schlagel, the girlfriend of Will �Wilco� Collins. Collins was a PTGL hero himself after filling in at the last minute for U.S. anchor Brock Mackenzie, who fell ill after the second round of doubles.
Steve Gangruff and Lee Williamson also made significant contributions to the U.S. victory. Gangruff led off the singles with a 2 & 1 victory over Chris �Gorilla� Baryla, which counted for double due to a fan vote. The six points swelled the 10-7 doubles lead to 16-7, leaving Canada vulnerable to Rodriguez�s knockout punch. Williamson (2-0-1) accumulated eight points in two doubles formats to build the 10-7 lead. Lee Curry led Canada with four points in a 2-1-0 record.
Still, the afternoon belonged to Rodriguez, who doused Captain Lon Hinkle with victory champagne, then lit his victory cigar. �I took a year off from golf, worked at a bank, I went back to Texas A&M. My family has been through my ups and downs � I was so depressed I had to l look up to see down,� he said sadly. �But my family and wife stood by me. It�s amazing what a wonderful woman can do in your life. With their support I got a second chance.�
He cashed it. After all, its not how many times you get knocked down, it�s how many times you get back up. Perhaps that is the greatest benefit of a family-oriented, holistic, yet eminently professional league like the PTGL. They give more options to good guys who need it and deserve it.
Yes, Dave Braun, you were right. You made dreams come true tonight. You loved the unsung heroes and, for this magical day, they loved us all back.
Since launching his first golf writing website in 2004, http://www.jayflemma.thegolfspace.com, Jay Flemma�s comparative analysis of golf designs and knowledge of golf course architecture and golf travel have garnered wide industry respect. In researching his book on America�s great public golf courses (and whether they�re worth the money), Jay, an associate editor of Cybergolf, has played over 220 nationally ranked public golf courses in 37 different states. Jay has played about 1,649,000 yards of golf � or roughly 938 miles. His pieces on travel and architecture appear in Golf Observer (www.golfobserver.com), Cybergolf and other print magazines. When not researching golf courses for design, value and excitement, Jay is an entertainment, copyright, Internet and trademark lawyer and an Entertainment and Internet Law professor in Manhattan. His clients have been nominated for Grammy and Emmy awards, won a Sundance Film Festival Best Director award, performed on stage and screen, and designed pop art for museums and collectors. Jay lives in Forest Hills, N.Y., and is fiercely loyal to his alma maters, Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and Trinity College in Connecticut.