It’s early in the year, but we may already have the comeback story of 2012: pro golfer Kyle Stanley.
Two Sundays ago, Stanley was three shots ahead with just one hole to play in the Farmers Insurance Open. All he had to do was score a 7 or better on the par 5 18th hole. That’s easy for a talented pro like Stanley.
But Stanley knocked his ball into the water and scored an 8. That score is so bad golfers have a special name for it: “a snowman.” Then Stanley missed a short putt to lose in a playoff.
So instead of winning his first PGA tournament, Stanley lost in the worst possible way. Stanley, 24, cried after the tournament because he was so disappointed. Golf fans wondered whether Stanley could come back after such a heartbreaking loss.
Stanley didn’t quit or feel sorry for himself for long. He entered the Phoenix Open last week and played well. Still, he was behind by eight strokes when he teed off Sunday for the fourth and final round.
Stanley played great, hitting some amazing shots, including one from under a cactus bush! On the final hole, Stanley sank a short, pressure-packed putt to win by one stroke.
It was a great comeback for Stanley and a great lesson for any kid who plays sports. It’s maybe the biggest lesson kids can learn from sports: how to come back from disappointment.
All athletes, whether they are pros or kids, get nervous and mess up sometimes. They may blow a layup or miss a wide-open goal or drop an easy pop-up.
It happens in all sports. In golf, the smallest change in how the player swings the club and hits the ball can make a big difference. So when a golfer gets nervous, the ball starts flying into sand traps or into the water instead of close to the hole.
When you mess up in a game, it’s hard to put it behind you. But the great thing about sports is that you get another chance — if you don’t quit. You can practice, learn from your mistakes and try again.
So the next time you or your team messes up — and it will happen — don’t think of it as a disaster. Think of it as a chance to practice your comeback.
Like Kyle Stanley.
Fred Bowen is the author of 17 sports books for kids. He once dropped two pop-ups in one inning of Little League baseball.