By Scott Graison
They both happened Saturday. What took place in Naples wasn’t the equivalent of what went down in Baltimore, but it was pretty cool. Up in Maryland, Army and Navy renewed their long-standing rivalry, and Army put an end to a winless streak against the Midshipmen that goes back to 2001.
About 11,000 miles south, Harris English and Matt Kuchar held off Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly by a single stroke to win the Shark Shootout. What makes the English-Kuchar pairing so special is that they went to colleges that are fierce rivals. English went to the University of Georgia, while Kuchar attended Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets have battled on the football field for 123 years. The rivalry is known as Clean Old Fashioned Hate. The teams…and their fans really don’t like each other.
But English and Kuchar played together at the Shark Shootout, putting all of that behind them, working together in the true spirit of sportsmanship. And the win at Tiburon is nothing new for this unlikely duo. They’ve played the event four years in a row, with two wins and a pair of second-place finishes.
“It’s a thrilling event to come out with a win, amazing feeling,” Kuchar said. “I think it’s just such a fun partnership we’ve had. We’ve had such a good run. To have our last four events together, to have our track record be first, second, second, first is quite amazing.”
When playing against each other, Kuchar and Harris undoubtedly want to win over the other player. They’re professional golfers. They’re competitors. It’s to be expected. The same should be for any golfer who goes out and plays. Be competitive. Try to win. But don’t shy away from telling a playing partner, “Good shot,” in the spirit of sportsmanship. Harris and Kuchar are prime examples how sportsmanship overcame a rivalry that began way back in 1893.