“Advice is the only commodity on the market where the supply always exceeds the demand.” -Anonymous
So there I was. Sulking on the practice putting green at Evian Golf Club, trying to sort out what was going on with my stroke. I struck the ball adequately, but missed far too many putts in the first round. Missing putts while striking the ball well left me with a score of 73, ten shots behind the leader Stacy Lewis. Suffice to say I was rather despondent.
I was working on reading my putts better, especially with the left to right, downhill, touchy sliders heading toward le Lac Leman, or Lac Geneve, depending on which side of the lake you were on. After having been to the Evian for ten years, I thought that I had a pretty good indication on how much the lake would effect the speed of the putts. Plus I was working ferociously on my stroke, both at the golf course and in the hotel room, and finally felt comfortable with it again. Until teetime came. Then I was trying too hard. I made a few birdies, including an awesome birdie on the first hole, but could not convert the crucial par saving, momentum swinging putts I needed. I asked my caddy to let me be, to let me sort my putting on my own, mostly so I would be able to cry my frustrations out on my own. I am not the biggest fan of crying in front of others, and I hated the idea that I needed to cry, I needed to putt, and was going to have to combine the two together.
And there I was. Working on putts ranging from three to fifteen feet, with varying amounts of break, when up comes Andrew Dearden. He caddied for me in the past, and he is without question one of the finest caddies I have ever had the honor of working with. We spent the better part of nine months working together, and the better part of ten years becoming and staying friends. We can always laugh at things, he can always help me to focus or to get over a bad shot, and moreover, he knows what he’s doing because he truly cares. Not that other caddies I have had in the past didn’t care, but Andy and I have one of the best relationships of anyone on tour. He’s one of my best mates, and so between sniffles, he came over and started chatting. He said he saw me standing by myself (whereas most other years, I would be sitting with a crowd of folks having a few at the infamous Beer Garden next to the practice green) and we just talked. About everything. And anything. He mentioned he read my blog entry on my depression, and gave me a much needed slagging for having not talked to him about it, instead of the usual coddling I had been receiving from most of the people I came across. He told me how he didn’t understand what I was going through exactly, but he would always be there to provide a shoulder to lean on, an ear to jabber into, or a hand to smack some sense into me, if need be.
For those of you that have read my book, you know a bit about Andy. He’s from Manchester, England, has a foul , mouth that I love, and through his rough edges, is more loyal to his friends than anyone I have ever met. He has been there with me through thick and thin, and he has always known when I needed a joke or a hug. He is an unsung hero in my world, one who asks for nothing (though I do owe you that Scotty for wee Mark… Resend me the deets, por favor) but for the respect any human deserves.
Suffice to say, Andy’s chat had me from crying due to frustration to spewing tears of laughter in a matter of minutes, and my mind and soul felt cleansed again. Andy is such a wonderful man, and I am so damned lucky to have entered his small circle of friends. The next day, my stroke felt so much freer, with no burden of me “having to make the cut” or anything, that I managed to one putt my first seven holes enroute to a 67. I can’t recall the last time I shot 5 under. Most people probably can’t. And though a lot of it has to do with my diligence to work on my stroke after my poor round on Thursday, there is no question that Andy’s (mostly) kind words allowed me to release a little of what was still battling inside of me. And for that, I salute you, and I thank you Chief Dearden!