It is a customary event during Open Friday. A former winner – a Champion Golfer – a legend – bidding farewell to the championship and taking his bow from the stage. Today; Mark O’Meara.
Tears in his eyes; the extra long hug with his son who caddied for him this week as he finished with a second round of 70 – a stupendous effort in the conditions and one of the best rounds of the day.
It is a timely reminder that all the great things that I enjoy in life – family, friends, sport, music, literature, politics – are enjoyed best when they summon the emotions, when they quicken the pulse, when they start the heart racing and make the hairs on the back of the neck rise. I had a lump in my throat today seeing 1998’s Champion Golfer sign off his Open career. It was a special moment from a special man. Someone who epitomises the best of sport; the best of life.
I had my own little magic moment on the course today with my two special people. Dr J, Miss J and I positioned ourselves by the left side of the ninth fairway, about thirty yards from the front of the green. We had timed our arrival so that we could see our wee man – Rory Mc- make his way around the picturesque closing hole on the front nine. We had been discussing our Irish hero all week at home so it was gratifying – the sporting, cultural and historical indoctrination programme continues to work – that as he passed, Miss J shouted “come on Rory”. Lovely. I was so proud.
The big changes we have made in last few years have taught me a lot – mostly about how to be happy, truly happy. I now live a life that is full and built on, and full of, love. Today was no exception. A full day at The Open with my wonderful wife and darling daughter. All of us with smiles on faces – and in a particularly enjoyable hour, with champagne glasses in hand – well, two of the three of us anyway! No daft phone calls. No aggressive emails. No anxiety about the work I was missing. Just family time. Just special time.
Sporting folk are told to keep their emotions in check – to keep themselves on a even keel – to say calm. That is great advice in the sporting arena. But when it comes to living your life to the full – when it comes to your family and your happiness – there is nothing like a bit of emotion. The quickening of the pulse.
Tonight, we raise a glass to Rory and his magnificent 68 – a remarkable round – and also to Mark O’Meara for putting a tear in our eye. We also raise a glass to family. To happiness. To emotion. And we make no apology for it.