For any of us who've played sports, one of the hardest things to accept is defeat. We play the games because we're competitors, stoking that internal fire to be the best. If we come out on top, we're told, win with dignity. If we lose, congratulate the winner and move on.
For those of us who watched the Masters this past weekend, we saw a wonderfully gifted athlete, Kenny Perry, melt right before our eyes. In the process, Perry lost a chance at golfing immortality, falling in a playoff to Angel Cabrera. At 48, the Franklin, Ky. native may never have another opportunity to win one of golf's majors. Only this wasn't just a major. This was the Masters.
Perry headed into the last two holes of the tournament with what seemed an insurmountable two-shot lead. After nearly acing the par-3 16th, the wheels fell off. In a scene eerily similar to his runner-up finish at the 1996 PGA Championship at Valhalla, Perry bogeyed 17, then bogeyed 18, in stunning fashion, allowing Cabrera and Chad Campbell to finish in a three-way tie for first.
Campbell was eliminated after the first playoff hole. On the second playoff hole, Perry pulled his approach shot and couldn't get up and down, allowing Cabrera a two-putt opportunity to win his first green jacket.
But Perry's loss is the PGA's gain. Fans surely were moved as Perry graciously accepted his fate. Admitting he couldn't root against Cabrera, Perry was seen applauding one the Argentine's putts.
I agree, Perry lost the Masters -- it was there for his taking. But Perry likely gained millions of fans for his ability to handle the situation, as cruel as it was.
Perry is considered one of the real gentlemen on the PGA Tour. On Sunday, that couldn't have been more evident. Perry made all Kentuckians and pro golfers everywhere proud, even in defeat.
Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.