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No lead is safe in sports

No lead is safe in sports

If it seems strange that Collin Morikawa (TaylorMade TP5) could lose the Sentry Tournament of Champions after leading by seven strokes at one point in the final round, it is not.

If it seems strange that Jordan Spieth (Titleist pro V1x) could fail to make the cut after sharing the lead after the first round  of the Sony Open with a six-under score, it is not.

This is sports, the ultimate reality show.

This is not artificially-created storylines that are sensational, designed to draw in viewers, even though it is not real.

When it comes to human beings pursuing a sports prize or simply just trying to win a game, nothing is guaranteed.

The Jacksonville Jaguars overcame a 27-0 deficit at the half of their National Football League playoff game this past Saturday against the Los Angeles Chargers and ended up winning 31-30.

Momentum can swing either way, and often the narrative is more about the person or team that blew the lead as opposed to the winner. Jon Rahm (Callaway Chrome Soft X) went on a heater in the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions, while Morikawa went cold. The really, truly unfortunate part of all of this is that the word choke is used to describe the end result of the loser.

It is even more sad that in these days of sports betting, the outcome is viewed purely from a monetary gain or loss.

Si Woo Kim (Callaway Chrome Soft X) won the Sony Open while Tom Kim (Titleist Pro V1x), the 11-1 consensus favorite going into the tournament, failed to make the cut. He started off solidly in the first round, going two-under part after three holes, but then cooled off and found himself two-over par after the first round. He scuffled on the second day and finished one-over par, two strokes below the cut line.

There’s an old expression in golf – you can’t win a tournament after the opening round but you can certainly lose it

The week before he finished tied for fifth in the Sentry TOC. Bettors jumped all over him as the consensus choice to win the Sony. Rick Gehman, founder of RickRunGood.com, noted Kim lost 4.99 strokes putting in the round one and that it was the worst putting performance of his career. Christopher Powers of GolfDigest.com wrote in Kim’s first PGA win last year at the Wyndham Championship, he gained 12.5 strokes putting. Kim started the opening-round with a quadruple bogey in the first round of the Wyndham and ended up winning by five. Not much was known about Kim at that point of his career, but he developed into a young star as the 2021-22 PGA season progressed.

Si-Woo Kim went into the Sony Open as a 37-1 choice.

There is no tomorrow for the Los Angeles Chargers. They will have to stew on their loss until the new season starts in the fall, but for Tom Kim there will be plenty more tomorrows this season. There’s only been two tournaments since the new year.

As for Spieth, well, we’ve seen him go through some wild hot and cold streaks in his career and it’s made for some interesting drama. No one is harder on himself than Spieth, who can often be heard berating himself when things start to go the wrong way. You can also see it in his body language.

He went through a winless streak of almost four years before snapping the skein in April 2021 with a victory in the Valero Texas Open. Sometimes it’s hard to believe he is only 29. He got hot early in his career winning the Masters almost eight years ago, winning the U.S. Open and placing second in the PGA Championship. He won The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in 2017 with one of the craziest shots in golf history off of the tee, sending it way, way right. He played his third shot on the driving range and, despite a bevy of equipment vans on either side he landed just short of the greenside bunker. He made bogey on the hole, which many considered to be fortunate. He went on a heater and won by three strokes. Matt Kuchar (Bridgestone Tour B X) led with five holes to play, but that’s when Spieth went nuclear.

It is never over in sports until the final horn, buzzer, whistle, out or, in the case of golf, the last putt. Up until the conclusion, anything can happen.

And isn’t that why we are drawn to sports?


Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko is an award-winning writer who has published nine books, three of them bestsellers. He has been involved in sports writing for more than 35 years and has interviewed many superstar athletes. He lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and enjoys watching golf and playing it.

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