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Adversity can make you better, if you let it

February 6, 2012
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor ( , The Herald-Star

All Kyle Stanley had to do last week was make a 7 on the par 5 18th hole at Torrey Pines to win the Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour.

He stood on the tee with a four-shot lead.

Brandt Snedeker made birdie to close the gap to three.

Stanley promptly made 8 and lost to Snedeker on the second playoff hole.

I suggested to no one in particular (since I was in the office by myself) that he blew the hole and the tournament by making a mistake on the second shot (a layup) instead of ripping his second shot over the green and into the grandstands somewhere.

He followed the 8 and the loss by being a stand-up guy, conducting himself with nothing but professionalism while answering questions about the meltdown.

Stanley had one taken away from him a year ago when Steve Stricker finished birdie-birdie, including one of the best fairway bunker shots, followed by a made putt to win a tournament that you'll ever see.

Having two chances, he had one stolen and gave away the other.

Sunday in Phoenix, he took one - with a little help.

Stanley entered the final round eight behind leader Spencer Levin and was four back with nine to go.

Stanley, a Clemson University graduate from Gig Harbor, Wash., played the last nine in 33, while Levin sputtered to a 39, handing Stanley his first Tour victory.

This win was, in large part, due to Stanley's attitude on how he reacted and embraced the adversity from the previous week.

He didn't shy away from the blunder.

He faced it head on.

He didn't blame his caddie. He didn't blame the flagstick location. He didn't blame the golf gods. He didn't blame the sport.

He put the consequences for his actions and decisions squarely on his shoulders.

He didn't let last week's finish effect this week's finish.

He learned from it.

"I'm not sure what I'm thinking right now," Stanley said. "I just needed to focus on playing golf. I needed to put last week behind me.

"I just want to thank my mom and dad. They've done a lot for me. I'm speechless."

Stanley, though, knows exactly what Levin went though Sunday.

"I really feel for him," Stanley said. "You don't want to wish that on anyone. He's a very good player."

Levin, like Stanley the week before, owned the moment.

"It just wasn't my day, obviously," Levin said during the press conference. "But I gave it away, simple as that. You have a six-shot lead and lose, you gave it away. My hat's off to Kyle. He played a great round. He went and got it. But if you've got a six-shot lead and don't win, then I think it's on the player with the lead, for sure."

Speaking of a little adversity - say hello to the Zanesville Rosecrans girls basketball team.

Ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press Division IV poll, the Bishops were seeded fourth in their sectional draw Sunday - behind Hiland, Garaway and Strasburg, none of which are ranked in the top 10 in the state.

Rosecrans is 14-4, losing to Shadyside (16-2), Fort Frye (No. 9 in Division III), Chaminade Julienne (No. 7 in Division II) and River View (12-5). The Bishops are 2-0 against Division I teams and 8-2 against Division II teams.

Hiland is 0-3 against Division I teams. Garaway has no wins against Division I or II teams and Strasburg played zero games against Division I or II teams.

So, what did Rosecrans do when it was time to put its name on a line - go against Hiland in a second round game.

Guess we'll know really soon.

Hey coaches, if you were Rosecrans, how would you feel about being seeded fourth based on the schedule played?

Yep, that's what I thought.

Smells like home cooking to me.

Steubenville Catholic Central is in a Division III sectional tournament with Bellaire, Fort Frye, Martins Ferry, Monroe Central, Shenandoah, St. Clairsville, Union Local and West Muskingum at Cambridge High School.

You mean there is no other high school more centrally located?

And, if Harrison Central plays its Division III sectional at Dover, why not Catholic Central also?

Because Tri-Valley High School is hosting a Division II sectional, its girls team gets to head 77 miles east to Ohio University-Eastern to play in its sectional event, where it is seeded second behind Edison High School.

Still trying to figure out what the big deal is about playing at home during a sectional tournament.

The New York Giants were 7-7, one loss from missing the playoffs and head coach Tom Coughlin was out the door.

Five wins later they are Super Bowl champions for the second time in four years.

What would have happened if they let what everyone else was saying bother them?

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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