Stuard becomes another underdog golf success story at the Zurich Classic
You should never discount the new Zurich Classic winner’s prior best claim to success by winning a Hooters Tour event way back in 2007. If you are, you are entirely missing the mystique of this wonderful championship in greater New Orleans where dreams are made and come true.
Please allow me to bring you back to your own personal career struggles. Remember you own climb to the top, scraping your knees, dealing with the rejections and enduring the heartbreak. Yet, your never-quit drive to succeed remained. You have something very much in common with Brian Stuard, our 2016 champion. You are kindred spirits. That lower tour win nine years ago defined his career until Monday when he won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans Championship in a three-way sudden death championship.
Stuard shot 15 under par against Jamie Lovemark and Byeong-Hun An, other non-winners on the PGA Tour, in the rain-shortened 54 hole championship at the TPC Louisiana to make the playoff.
The Zurich Classic is where dreams come true. It should be the Tour stop’s theme for the future. And to think that the last win for the 33-year old Stuard came on the Hooters Tour in 2007. Ten years later, he will be driving down Magnolia Lane to play in The Masters.
This triumph is golf in its purist form, maybe with a little voodoo tied to it in New Orleans, a city built on faith and hope. Brian has joined our family of underdog winners. When I see past champions like Jerry Kelly conversing with the kids around the course this year, I see our future while he sees the big picture.
Right now, I remember Steve Stricker in blue jeans standing while no one one knew who he was on the 18th green during the Zurich Awards Ceremony quietly celebrating for his lifelong friend Kelly in 2009. Both men are from Madison, Wisconsin. Few knew who Stricker was standing off to the side in his baseball cap but I did. It was true love for a fellow friend.
The Zurich Classic has a way of making memories for a lifetime. Brian Stuard will come back to New Orleans a different person, but I am sure he will still have the humility of a man appreciative of his big career breakthrough. He knows the struggles to the the top. All of us in New Orleans know this struggle all too well. Congratulations, Brian!
- < PREV Stuard shoots 64 at Zurich Classic, eyes breakthrough
- NEXT > A father's letters to his sons on Senior Day, 22 years apart