Devotional: November 30th
Professional golf has its showcases. Most are what have been dubbed, "The Majors," four tournaments which have evolved to represent the finest of what championship golf is all about. Two of those are the national championships of their respective nations (The U. S. and British Opens), one the championship of the professional tour itself (PGA Championship) and the fourth the result of the greatest player at that time (Bobby Jones) asking his fellow golfers to come and find out who is really the best (The Masters).
There is a championship that has become one of those "don't miss this tournament" gatherings that was begun by an entertainment giant as a nice little get together for his pals in the industry and some of golf's elite. You might say it was the founding effort of a "pro-am" event; professionals and amateurs playing side-by-side for the purpose of charity. Officially it was known as the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Invitational Tournament. But it was better known by the name of the organizer, Bing Crosby. It was simply called "The Crosby Clambake."
Since Bing's death it has gone back to its official designation. With the old crooner gone, as well as many of his pals that first made it famous, the primary source of its luster is now the professional field. That luster was bright in 1997's edition as a steady Mark O'Meara shot 67 four straight days to win the tournament. At his heels were a hard charging Tiger Woods and what was then a very frighteningly proficient David Duval, the third round leader. Woods closed with a sizzling eight under par 64 to keep the pressure on his practice pal, O'Meara.
It is in nationally renown golf events such as the Crosby that legendary performances are cemented in the minds of golf's faithful followers. O'Meara's winning round of 67 was not a slam dunk. Much of it was a seemingly endless stream of "hit the fairway, hit the green, make the putt." However, were it not for an incredible effort on the sixteenth hole at Pebble Beach, O'Meara might well have been facing Tiger in a playoff. O'Meara missed the green on the flag side of the hole and left himself a chip of some twenty feet for the birdie. With steely nerves and, as they say, a lock picker's touch, he holed the chip. Such is the stuff of championships.
There is something remarkable in the test of the course of life. God isn't looking for the excellent, just the faithful. He isn't looking for the best, just the determined. That's the great thing about life in God's kingdom. The war is already won through the work of Christ on Calvary. God just wants to see if we will still fight it to the end. "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Ephesians 6:13 Tournament over. Championship won. 'Nuff said.
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