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A Happy Fathers Day on the links

Watching our kids can be a wonderful treat
by: Self-portrait Sports Editor John Brewington

All the fathers who watch their kids play sports and saw the U.S. Open golf tournament on Sunday had to have a bit of a tear in their eye. I know I certainly did.

There was something quite compelling in seeing Rory McIlroy, a barely 22-year-old, bounce back from a blown lead at the Masters and win the U.S. Open in such grand style. He broke something like 12 records in the feat.

Watching golf on television usually has about as much drama as watching the fairway grass grow.

He looks about 16 my wife said and even she sat down to watch the last few holes. Golf on TV is a good way to nap, she usually says, but she only napped a bit Sunday. McIlroy had a near hole in one on the difficult and tricky par 3 10th. I ran back the DVR and let her see it. She puttered around but was keeping an eye glued all the while. My wife likes golf like I like shopping for blouses.

This Northern Ireland kid has the charm of a Leprechaun. I remember him leading going into the last day of the Masters and then just wilting on the back nine.

He had a talk with Jack Nicklaus after the Masters and was asked if he'd learned from the experience. He said he had and that answer was obvious Sunday.

He led by eight or nine or 10 along the way and didn't need much to win at the end. He spotted his dad in the crowd walking up the 18th with thousands cramming every nook and cranny on the course. A big smile, and a wave to dad. Then he nearly sank an impossible putt to finish. Afterwards he gave his father a big hug. 'Happy Father's Day,' he said. What a great present to give any father-a championship. It was particularly fitting since his father was his main source of encouragement along the way.

We parents who have had kids in sports or other activities can live or die with the moment. Most of us have consoled kids when they lose, and celebrated with them when they win.

I once told my then 12-year-old daughter and her teammates that if they won their softball pool and made the finals bracket at state that I would give them a ride to the tournament the next day in a limousine. It was a first year, 12U team and they had hardly won a game all season. Those wonderful girls came from behind in the bottom of the seventh with dark closing in to win. One girl, Erica Aberle, made it to third and bolted for home to score the tying run on a passed ball. The fastest girl on the team, Chrisa Collins, was at second and she was finished right behind Erica. Fastest girl I think I've ever seen on the base paths. It was a special moment for the team and me, too, I have to admit. The whole team went in the limo the next day, and darn if we come home with second place trophy.

It's a marvelous thing for us to go out and see our kids play. We watch nervously hoping for the best. When they succeed, we rejoice in their success. When they don't have the best of outings, we console them the best we can. We do need to let them succeed or fail on their own, however.

Some of the most joyous memories I have are of those great successes by local teams-the team state championships, and the individual ones that speak to hard work, dedication, focus, and sometimes overcoming great difficulties.

Watching that success may seem vicarious, but more it speaks to human nature. It's natural to wish your children do well, and to even feel good about it when it's someone else's child.

So, a belated Happy Father's Day to all those dads out there that know exactly what I mean.