Wednesday, July 18, 2018

18 More At Springdale

TigerBlog came away from last year's Friends of Princeton Lacrosse golf outing thinking that he was the worst golfer of all time.

He came away from this year's thinking that he was much less terrible than he'd been a year earlier. That's progress.

In fact, no less a golf expert than longtime men's lacrosse program member Bryce Chase told TigerBlog that TB's golf game, and TB quotes directly here, "isn't hopeless." Brycie, who turned 78 yesterday, is recovering nicely from his broken leg after a bike mishap, by the way.

TigerBlog hit way more good shots in Monday's event than he did last year. A year ago, his only good shots were irons, which he can fairly consistently hit straight and with reasonable distance.

This time around, TB had definite improvement in a few areas. This surprised him, since he hadn't swung a club in 52 weeks. In fact, the two water bottles he put in the bag last year were still there.

Despite that, he actually was okay at chipping with a wedge. And getting out of the sand traps, after a little advice from Bryce. He hit a few good fairway woods. He read the greens well on his putts.

Oh, don't think for a minute that he was actually good. Far from it.

He didn't win longest drive. In fact, he hit one shot with a three-wood all day, and it was a little dribbler off the tee. He didn't win closest to the pin, though on the hole with the closest to the pin contest, he was definitely closest to the tree closest to the pin.

It's just that he was, well, not hopeless.

Maybe he'd improve if he played more than once a year?

His playing partners this year were Bob Clark and Bill Prager, fathers of three former Princeton men's lacrosse players between them. Dan Clark and B.J. Prager graduated in 2002, while Matthew Prager graduated in 2005.

Bob and Bill are good golfers. They can actually hit woods off of tees, and hit the ball far and straight. They have a lot of experience, and they know how to approach shots and not just hit it and hope for the best.

TigerBlog was at every game that Clark and B.J. Prager played at Princeton and all but one that Matthew Prager played. It was pretty odd to hear Bill Prager talking about B.J.'s three kids, but then again, it's been 16 years since he graduated from college.

B.J. Prager scored the game-winning goal in overtime in the 2001 final, a 10-9 win over Syracuse for the sixth  NCAA title in program history. TigerBlog off the top of his head could tell you about a million things he remembers from that game, from the way the Tigers got out to a 3-0 lead after the first quarter after Syracuse had pushed Princeton around in three games (2000 and 2001 regular season and 2000 NCAA final) by a combined 43-19 all the way through Bill Tierney's emotional kneel on the field after winning a championship with his sons Trevor and Brendan.

Princeton led 3-0 after one and then 5-3 at the half. It grew to 8-4 after the third quarter and then, boom, Syracuse tied it at 8-8 in a blink of the fourth quarter. Princeton went ahead 9-8, but Syracuse would tie it with 16 seconds left.

Both teams had chances in the OT, but it was Prager who ended it with 41 seconds left, off a feed from Ryan Boyle.

For everything he remembered from that day at Rutgers, there's one thing he either never realized or forgot at some point: Prager scored the last four Princeton goals in the game.

Bill Prager certainly knew that. TB actually went back and looked it up, and it was true. One of those four, by the way, was assisted by Dan Clark.

The conversation over 18 holes included a lot of topics. Bill grew up on Long Island and was in the Air Force. Bob is a Philly guy originally who rowed and never played lacrosse.

They talked about kids. Golf. Usual stuff.

And of course the 2001 championship game came up. They talked about how nervous they were when Syracuse tied it. TigerBlog was confident that Princeton would figure out a way to win.

After their 18 holes were over, there was a reception and then dinner. Head coaches Chris Sailer and Matt Madalon and Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan spoke. The Academic-Athletic Fellows for the men's and women's teams were honored, and there was a special goodbye for Pat Moran, the men's Fellow who is leaving Princeton for Columbia.

These events, multiplied by 37 varsity teams and then by the entire University, are a huge part of what makes Princeton so special. It's the loyalty that is bred here and that lasts forever.

That level of loyalty is something that is unique to this school. And when you see it from the perspective that TigerBlog has at events like Mondays, you're able to appreciate it even more.

As for the golf? On TB's last hole, he found himself off the side of the green. He hit a soft wedge, and the ball looked all the world like it was headed into the hole. Instead, it rolled just past the cup, settling at that uncomfortable distance where it's just a little too far to pick up your ball. Plus, it was the 18th.

TigerBlog sized up his putt and, looking for a nice way to end the round, left it just short. Two putts.

But still, he'll take it. All in all, it was a great day at Springdale.

No comments: