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JORDAN AND MATT…displayed incredible talent and character at The Open Championship played last month at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club – Southport, England links course. The Sunday final round was virtually a two-man race for the cup. This will go down as a round for the ages. Especially for what happened at the 13th hole! For you golfers, there is no reason to replay the round here or that hole’s once in a lifetime drama.
For you non-golfers, it featured Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar, two of the most admired and loved players on tour. Jordan, at 23, is the youngest American to win The Open and now the number one ranked player in the world. Matt, a 39 year old, has won plenty of tournaments but never a major. These guys are fierce competitors but the best of friends. They are both professing Christians. Jordan displays a boyish demeanor, and who isn’t familiar with that continual smile on Matt’s face.
What stood out to me was their display of the ‘fruit of the Spirit’. To reflect on the attributes, Galatians 5:22 states; “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. I maintain that all the elements are incorporated in Godly love.
The joy these two displayed for the entire day showed how much they lovedoing what God gifted them to do, to bring glory to Him. It came through even in the times of stress.
Peace was evident even though each one of them was grinding, competing, trying to make good decisions and executing shots under difficult circumstances.
Patience is one of the hallmarks of golfing success, especially at the highest level. But the patience Matt showed during the 25 minutes it took for Jordan to play the 13th, all within the rules, was nothing less than amazing. It could have easily destroyed the concentration, of both men. It is a testimony to their patience that it did not.
Kindness came to the forefront when Jordan walked onto the 13th green after the elapsed time and obviously apologized to Matt. The ensuing fist pump between the men and the ‘smile’ exhibited by Kuchar showed the goodness that resides in his heart. True sportsmanship reflects abounding kindness and goodness.
I pause here to remind you of what they were playing for. “The Golfer of the Year” award, not to mention the $1,845,000 prize! Maybe the highest honor in all of golf. The juices were flowing, the competitive intensity was at the forefront. And to have these men reflect such outstanding ‘fruit’ is a tribute to the Lord in their lives. Human nature simply does not manifest itself that way.
Gentleness is sorta like meekness. It is strength under control. While Jordan seems to be wired a little tighter than Matt, both come across as gentle men, even under intense pressure. I would add that Kuchar is the personification of gentleness.
This intense pressure was up front and personal. It started on the first tee on Thursday and doesn’t stop until that last putt, win or lose. Bogeys, errant shots, bad decisions, improper reads on the green, all loomed with every shot. Agony and ecstasy! The grind took its toll. The mental pressure must have beenenormous. But they both endured and came away with strong finishes.
And talk about self-control! Great caddies enter into this phase. They offer encouragement and settle their fierce competitors. Without this attribute, neither would have finished well. Matt seemed to be strong in this area. Jordan appeared to be losing his self-confidence during the first 12+ holes. His terrible errant drive on the 13th seemed to reflect this in spades but what ensued showed he had not lost his self-control. The decisions he made showed he was totally in control of his emotions.  The bogey he pulled off was nothing less than amazing.
After that, Jordan’s next five holes at 5 under par will be written and talked about for generations to come. But what spoke volumes to me was their strength under fire. Actually, they had fun playing together-for big stakes! Matt was 2 under on these same final holes. Not too shabby!
After the golf concluded, Jordan walked by Matt’s family who were loving on each other and Matt’s wife Sybi and Jordan exchanged hugs. They had flown over to the tournament the night before to surprise Matt at the finish. He was not aware. Quite a scene!
Faithfulness was revealed in Jordan’s interview concerning his priorities, in case there was any doubt. He said golf is third, family is second and his faith was number one in his life. Didn’t it show? Kuchar, when interviewed, shared how ‘selfish’ the game of golf is; separating father and families for periods of time. And he thanked his family for standing with him. When Matt knelt down to embrace his kids on the 18th green, it spoke volumes! He lost the match, but he showed the world he is really a winner, in every way.
The fruit of the Spirit was clearly on display that day in July 2017 through two men who have their priorities straight. And they showed that their identity is not in who they are, but whose they are. Whether these two marvelous golfers ever win another tournament or not, they both won my admiration. God was glorified! Is there really anything else?
Copyright 2017
Bill C. Dotson
Scripture taken from the ESV

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