A couple of days ago the U.S. Open golf championship was played in Washington state. I watched it with interest, especially since the Pacific Northwest is so beautiful. But really it was how the tournament wound down that left me pondering, pondering, Is life fair?
The guy undoubtedly playing the best was a lean, powerful twenty-something named Dustin Johnson. Dustin's had a troubled past: drugs, wild living, gang association, but he's worked hard at cleaning up his act. And this particular day he was hitting the golf ball so far and then hitting it so close to the flagstick on the greens. Only thing is—he couldn't make any putts. Even the short ones. And you need to make putts, especially the short ones, if you are going to win a major tournament like the U.S. Open.
On the very last hole of the tournament, Dustin was tied with Jordan Spieth, who is golf's new "golden boy." Only twenty-one, an easy smile and a graciousness not often found in twenty-one-year-olds, Jordan Spieth has endeared himself to the golfing world.
In many ways it was a white hat vs. black hat showdown. Spieth had already finished playing and now Dustin Johnson had a chance to win the tournament by making a relatively easy twelve-foot putt. The guy played the best. I don't particularly like him as a player but as I watched the TV broadcast I said aloud: "He deserves to win."
He lined up the putt meticulously. Crouching low. Squinting. Looking at the contour of the green from every possible angle to increase his chances of the ball dropping into the hole. The glory of being the United States Open Champion was his if he could make this one putt.
And the ball ran by the hole three feet. Now he had to make this little three-foot putt just to tie Spieth. Again, he went through the process of endlessly lining it up, leaving no avenue or contingency unexplored. Finally he settled over the putt and made his stroke.
He missed again.
He lost the U.S. Open.
Was it fair?
Was God or the Universe or as golfers say "the golfing gods" favoring Jordan Spieth over Dustin Johnson? Was it a case of good prevailing over evil?
As in most questions like this, there is no answer.
Try to figure it out. You won't be able to. Life is a mystery. Life is life.
Some will make deep-thinking speculations that Dustin Johnson needed to learn something from the defeat. I don't buy it.
Some will say Jordan Spieth needed to learn from winning. I don't think so.
Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. You'll do plenty of both during your lifetime.
Keeping things that simple makes it easier to accept that that's just the way life is.