If Mr. Penick were still alive and if he were Perez's teacher, he would have waited until Monday to call Perez, giving him time to sort through his thoughts. The call would have been a long one, lasting perhaps a half hour, but only a few minutes would have been spent discussing golf.
Mr. Penick had an uncanny way of focusing on the positive, and in talking about life he also taught you a great deal about golf. One of the things he used to say was, "Only one golfer leaves a tournament with a trophy, but everybody learns new lessons to make them better." If a player is savvy enough to learn from his failures—as Matt Gogel has—they become building blocks for future success. Here's what Mr. Penick would have emphasized to Perez:
1. One mishap does not detract from a champion's other accomplishments.
Mr. Penick would have reminded Perez that he has already won golf's most challenging tournament, December's Q school, as well as the 2000 Buy.com Ozarks Open.
2. Even in defeat there can be progress.
Mr. Penick would have been proud that even after the mistake at 14, Perez put himself in position to win by responding with brilliant birdies at 15 and 17.
3. Mr. Penick would have reminded Perez that, by reaching the 72nd hole with a one-shot lead in only his fourth Tour event, he proved that he's on the cusp of becoming a champion.