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Driven Mad
Rick Reilly
February 23, 1998
After winning the 1991 British Open, Ian Baker-Finch lost his game and, in a desperate effort to find it, nearly lost his mind
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February 23, 1998

Driven Mad

After winning the 1991 British Open, Ian Baker-Finch lost his game and, in a desperate effort to find it, nearly lost his mind

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Baker-Finch smiles and says, "Once in a while I'll be by myself and take out a tree or start breaking clubs over my knee. People look at what's happened to me and say, 'How is this guy fronting up?' Look, it's happened. It's my choice how I react to it. Sometimes I get above it all and look down and I think, well, what I've done is handle a really nasty situation really well. Not that it's anything to hang your hat on. I'm scarred inside. I just hide it well."

Golf will lower your pants in front of the whole school and spit in your lunch. Golf will take a kind and handsome man and do nasty and ugly things to him. But golf can't make you hate yourself. You've got to do that.

"Something good is going to come of this," Baker-Finch said at home one day in November, unconsciously fingering that fax from ABC. "At the end of the day it doesn't matter, does it? How I played? Hayley and Laura will still love me, and I'll still love them. What else really matters?"

Dear Ian Baker-Finch,
Every day look in the mirror and say, "I am a champion!"

DON, Victoria

Since Baker-Finch decided to give up on this millennium, his golf has improved dramatically. "The tension is out of my body," he says, full of cheer. "I'm having so much fun? That's exactly what all the shrinks kept telling him but Baker-Finch's mind wouldn't accept: Try harder at trying less.

But even in the peace that sometimes comes with giving up, Baker-Finch is dreaming of his heroic return. "The place will be jammed," he says grinning. "And I'll be loving it because I'll be playing so great. I can't wait."

Sigh.

Well, if he ever does try it, and you happen to be there, show him you believe. Stand on the left.

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