Evanson column: In sports and life, nothing beats a happy ending
Scott Harrington understood life's downs. Now he understands its ups.
The 38-year-old Oregonian didn't win last week's Winco Portland Open golf tournament — Ohio's Bo Hoag did that — yet, Harrington's second place finish earned him an opportunity he's been working toward for 17 years toiling in golf's minor leagues.
When he tapped in a 12-inch putt on the 18th green Sunday at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course in North Plains and secured the PGA Tour card he's been working so hard to attain, it wasn't just the reward that crossed his mind, but also the fight along the way.
"Columbus is going to get pushed back for a day or so," Harrington told a group of media. "I've been on this tour for a long time. I've watched these celebrations for years. To actually be able to take part in one — I'm going to make it count."
And he should.
Golf is hard. I know that firsthand as someone who spent a couple of my younger years trying to make a living at it myself. But harder is the adversity that life can hit you with before you even see it coming.
In 2017, Harrington's wife Jenn was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma. Later that year she went through a round of chemotherapy and was pronounced "free and clear." That celebration was short lived, however, after CT scans showed the cancer had returned the following May. Scott took much of last year off to be with his wife as she again endured treatment, and throughout the rounds of chemo and bone marrow transplants, Scott spent little time on the golf course preparing to play against many of the game's very best. She's now in remission, he's back to doing what he loves, and they're living a life that would've been hard to imagine even as recently as a year ago.
And that doesn't suck.
Frequently, things don't work out this way. I — and I'm sure many of you — know of cancer stories that don't end well. From the malady's indiscriminate nature, the costs involved and all too often its finality, C-A-N-C-E-R are not letters you ever want to hear in regards to you or your loved ones. Yes, they're making strides in treatments, but it remains a scary proposition for anyone forced to live with the uncertainties it presents.
Which makes what Harrington has been able to accomplish that much more impressive.
Golf is a game that demands your utmost attention. Professional sports in general require a level of dedication most would be unable to wrap their arms around, but golf is on its own level when it comes to the time and travel rigors that are nearly year-round.
Touring professionals are in a different town every week. They spend eight to 10 hours, seven days a week, at the course, and money isn't guaranteed. Unlike football, basketball, baseball or most other professional sports, pro golfers only make what they earn on a weekly basis. Sure, they have sponsorship opportunities, but the bulk of that income comes after you've done your share of winning, rather than when you need it most — on the way up.
I don't know Harrington personally, but I'm sure he'd be the first to tell you he's no different than any of the other millions of people living in the cancer world: one of pain, suffering and heartache most hope and pray to avoid. Yet, while many of their stories end in sorrow, he and his wife's story is now one of joy — and in a time of division, political unrest and seemingly rampant violence, that's something we should all celebrate.
"Ever since they started this tournament, I've always had in the back of my mind how special it would be to achieve a lifelong dream in my hometown," Harrington said.
Congratulations, Scott, you earned it.
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