Given a contest where pride is not at stake, most people will root for the underdog. When a Kirk Gibson limps to the plate in the bottom of the 9th with two outs, down a run, and misses the first two pitches from the most fearful Dennis Eckersley, no one I know is going to say “screw this Gibson guy, strike him out and get him a stretcher.” People like to see athletes overcome adversity, especially when the running is tough and the odds are stacked against them.
Yesterday I missed possibly the most important underdog victory that will transpire in my lifetime, the British Open championship won by Ben Curtis. Ranked 396 in the world, and only one year out of the Hooter’s League, Curtis was playing his first Majors competition. Such odds have not been overcome since Francis Ouimet won his first Majors event in 1913, and many books have been written about that game.
To be in the running with Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Davis Love III, Thomas Bjorn and Sergio Garcia and win—and never having met any of them (sans Tiger for 20 seconds in a college tourney)—that’s the essence of underdog. I just wish I could have been rooting for him in the final minutes yesterday.