Though it may not seem explicitly obvious from the outside, all sports fans have a structured way of rooting for teams or following leagues. Because of this structure, no fan can equally like every sport. By its very definition, a structure excludes.
Unfortunately for coach Darby and athletes like George Zolotas and Keegan Bradley, golf is not one of the central sports for many young sports fans. That’s not to blame the fans, though. As a sports editor, it is part of my job to decide what sports are more prevalent week-by-week.
But something else I have learned on the job is that there are plenty of good stories that could go by the wayside without an appreciation for those sports on your personal peripheral.
On March 7 at the Treasure Coast Classic in Fort Pierce, Fla., Zolotas and Bradley did something worth recognizing. It’s one thing to break a course record. It’s another for two members of the same team to both break it in the same round. Scoring 61 and 63 respectively, the juniors led St. John’s men’s golf to a first place victory.
“As I was doing it,” Bradley said, “[I knew] it was very special.”Zolotas was a little less aware of his achievement at the time. “I was just trying to keep making birdies,” he said. “I didn’t even know of any records. When I was 11 under, everyone kind of knew what was going on. I didn’t even know what was going on. I was just trying to stay really calm. I didn’t want to get overexcited.”
The two teammates, taking over Indian Hills course, had a little friendly competition going on. “We were laughing to each other and pointing to each other on the course,” Bradley said.”He knew what I was doing and I knew what he was doing,” added Zolotas. “We were trying to play better because of each other.”
Out of the three, though, perhaps the most excited of all was Darby, who compared the game to pitching a perfect game.”This is the best I’ve ever seen any team play,” he said.Perhaps what really made the story, though, was voluntary coach Pete Solana.
“[He] works on peak performance,” Darby said. “His wife had passed away so he didn’t make the trip but they (the team) talked to him every morning.”
Bradley called himself “very proud” about his achievement but he seemed more concerned about making a special inclusion for Solana.
“He’s helped me a lot and the win is dedicated toward him,” he said. “This win was for Pete. It’s for him and everything he did for the team. I couldn’t have shot what I shot without Pete.”
As a result of the showing, Darby believes Zolotas could win this year’s NCAA award for lowest round with his 10-under par 61, while Bradley could win the award for lowest tournament with a mark of 21-under par 192.
It would be unrealistic to ask any sports fan to love golf based on this space alone. If it is not your interest, that is understandable and fine. But golf does not have to be your favorite sport to appreciate such an accomplishment and such a story as this. Fans might not look for them in the less-publicized sports. So a round of applause goes to Zolotas, Bradley and crew for proving that the great, hidden stories are certainly out there.