Greensboro, North Carolina's Andrew McClardy was in exactly such a place Monday at the PGA Tour Q-School, in a place where he had to forget his past failures and not worry about what might be. Ed Hardin, the highly respected sports columnist at the Greensboro (NC) News-Record, picks it up from here:
McLardy played well [in this year's Q-School], stayed on the leaderboard and threatened to win the thing outright. For five days.
"It's such a long week," he said by phone Tuesday morning, back home with a 2-year-old screaming in the background. "The week drags on. There are practice rounds, and then weather came in and delayed the starts. The days started at 5 a.m. It made it all so tiring."
And still, through six holes Monday, all seemed to be going according to plan.
"And then one bad hole," he said. "I assumed it was over. I didn't look at numbers all week. I thought I was three strokes off the number."
And so, strangely, he felt no pressure. While players around him crumbled and broke down under the weight of dashed dreams, he simply played one shot after another. While as many as 14 players withdrew without reason during the final round, as players such as Duval and Micheel and Pernice failed to win their card, as players took breaks to throw up and cry on their caddie's shoulder, McLardy played on.
"Your mind starts racing," he said. "I played so well for five days. It would've been terrible ... "
His voice dropped off. He'd been there before when the number moved after he'd finished, someone else making a birdie at the final hole to eliminate him and send him back to Europe or the Nationwide Tour. His mind wandered, but didn't snap.
"It's important," he said. "But you have to keep it in perspective. It's not life and death. It's not worth crying about."
McLardy had found his Zen-like moment. From there, he soldiered on, and won his PGA Tour Card...by keeping his head in the present and on the real prize at hand: an excellent shot that kept him contention. Now he will have an entire season to prove his worth with the big boys on the world's pre-eminent golf circuit.