Talent and Story, Up and Down

Careers on Tour Ebb and Flow, But Talent Remains

One of the true beauties of following the golf tours is that everyone is talented, and everyone is in a different place.  It resembles the stock market. On any given day, a bunch of them are up, and a bunch of them are down, and tomorrow the whole thing will be different. The stories of the best golfers in the world are in constant flux, and we who spectate and comment are often guilty of conclusions we have no business coming to.

As an example, Ingee Chun’s victory at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship this week in Korea was her first since 2016. She faded from view for a while, and it turns out that the reason is related to sensitivity to rumors, criticism, and false speculation. Her final round 66, complete with seven birdies was not just a golfing victory, but a victory over us. Her story is on the upswing, and her talent was intact through both good and bad. Those of us who comment on golf in print are in the business of speculation. In its positive mode, speculation is fun. At its worst, it is abusive. Even if the readership is modest, a writer who doesn’t play all that well might perceive that he or she has the power to dispense cruelty stemming from willful ignorance. Either way, the fact remains that Ingee Chun is the talented golfer, while we are not. Her story is in a nice upward climb, and while we analyze it for public enjoyment, we should leave her mind, personal worth and swing alone. We have no business there.
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A second story that I found interesting this week is that of Charley Hull, the British wunderkind who is inching ever closer to tour victories. My hunch is that those victories are inevitable. Beating pros in matches as a kid doesn’t forecast how it’s going to work as an adult, but it does let you know that a special player is coming, and that we’d better watch out for her. Charley’s story has been one long and gradual rise. The talent, however, has been present from the beginning. If she were a stock, I’d recommend buying a bunch of shares.

As we have followed Tiger Woods through the long-suffered depths of despair all the way back to  a recent victory, did we ever think that his talent had gone away? I doubt it. His story is a magnificent lesson. If an athlete like that can go from a danger of not getting out of bed to an international victory, isn’t it also true that our stories can come out of their dark valley of despair as well? Tiger’s talent was never gone,  and never diminished, only his personal fortunes. His story charts like a dramatic upswing after a time of turbulence. Whether it continues, what human can tell?

With that point made, my optimism and ‘hope for all things’ that admittedly get me carried away at times, thinks back to Yani Tseng, who hasn’t been heard of for a while. My belief that personal fortunes rise and fall while talent does not pertains to her, in my mind, more than anyone.  She is still young, still as talented as ever, but in an ebb of her story. It is a mystifying one because it doesn’t show exterior upheaval at work. The career simply and inexplicably took a vacation. However, I am of a mind to keep the home fires burning for Tseng. Vacations end, troubles end, revelations, reversals and restorations eventually arise.
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And now, I’m so preoccupied with such a belief that I’m almost starting to think I can still learn to hit bunker shots, and figure out how to avoid shanking a wedge ever again – although, as I hear myself say it, that idea is just silly. Of course, I’m just speculating.

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