The adage that there is no crying in baseball, famously espoused by Tom Hanks in his role as a manager in A League of Their Own, is true. I mean, when have you ever seen a Major Leaguer in tears?
But golf is a different story. Think of Ben Crenshaw breaking down on the 18th green at Augusta National after winning his second Masters, in 1995, thoughts of his recently departed teacher and friend Harvey Penick heavy on his heart. Or Tiger Woods after his Open Championship win at Royal Liverpool in 2006, sobbing at the memory of his late father Earl. Hell, Bubba Watson falls to pieces at press conferences so often he should have an endorsement deal with Kleenex.
So, I hope you will pardon my emotions when it comes to my story on Ted Kiegiel.
I have known Kiegiel, the director of golf at the Carolina Country Club in Raleigh, N.C., and the coach of reigning U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson, for some 15 years. But it was not until we ate dinner together during the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando that he first told me the story of his darling daughter, Sarah. How doctors diagnosed her with brain cancer when she was just seven months old. How she has undergone 21 operations and countless sessions of chemotherapy to fight it. How she struggles to this day with cognitive issues and physical limitations, yet never seems to be without a smile on her face. Several times during that conversation, I felt my eyes welling up with tears, both moved and shaken by Ted’s story. Walking back to my hotel afterward, I started blubbering like Bubba.
Not long after that meal, I asked Ted if we could talk again about Sarah, so I could write a story about her and her struggle. Ted said yes, and when we chatted about Sarah that second time, it was his eyes that were filling constantly with tears. As I am sure they have many times through his family’s ordeal.
Yes, there is crying in golf. And as for the story I wrote on Sarah, I wouldn’t be surprised if you read it and weep as well.