Thirty years ago golf legend Gary Player, now 72, won his third and last Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Yesterday, a second golfer from South Africa won the Masters. “Finally!” said Gary, proudly.
Sunday, April 13, was cool and very windy. Only nine of the 45 golfers managed to shoot par or better. Trevor Immelman, 28, struggled throughout the day. But he managed to maintain his lead, finally beating Tiger Woods by three strokes. Tiger finished in second place for the third year in a row.
Trevor was PGA Rookie of the Year in 2006. But since 2006 he had won only one PGA tournament. He missed the first two months of the 2008 golf season after surgeons removed a benign tumor on his diaphragm. The tumor, coincidentally, was the size of a golf ball. Trevor played poorly in the tournaments he entered after recovering from the surgery.
In the Houston tournament just one week before the Masters, Trevor missed the cut. In professional golf tournaments, the cut occurs after the first 36 holes. Half the golfers—the ones with the worst scores—are dropped from the tournament. They earn no money.
In Britain, where bookies always post the odds for the Masters, Trevor was a long shot. But anyone who bet $10 on him before Thursday would have won $800 on Sunday. In two weeks, Trevor had gone from worst to first—from failing to win a dime in Texas to wearing the prized green jacket in Georgia (and $1.35 million). When asked what contributed most to his victory, Trevor said it wouldn’t have been possible without his parents’ loving support during his years as a junior golfer.
The crowd at the airport surged forward. The passengers had been waiting for a couple of hours for an airline employee to open the door leading to the plane outside. No one was in a good mood. An old man got trapped in the middle of the rush. He fell down without being able to break his fall. His head hit the concrete floor. Blood gushed from his forehead. He appeared to be unconscious. Everyone rushed past him, except for Dana. She called for help.
A minute later, a young airline employee showed up. Hardly looking at the old man, she told Dana to get aboard her plane. She said the old man would be okay, and walked away.
Dana screamed for help. An airport supervisor appeared. He told Dana to get on the plane. Dana said that she was not moving until an ambulance arrived. The supervisor said her plane would leave without her. Dana said that she didn’t care.
An ambulance and two paramedics finally arrived. The paramedics said that the man would be okay, but he would need stitches. They put him into the ambulance and drove off.
On her way out to the plane, which was still refueling, Dana saw the employee who had initially ignored the old man. The employee said, “You’re lucky the plane didn’t leave without you.”
“The plane?” Dana asked. “Who cares about the plane? How could you be so cold? That was an old man; he could have been your grandfather! How would you like it if everyone just stepped over your grandfather and went on their way?”
“They’re going to kick me out of my own home,” said Karl Berger, 86 years old. Karl is a widower with no living children. When Karl’s wife died a couple of years ago, he told the Social Security Administration to stop sending monthly checks to his wife. But the agency continued to send the checks. Karl called again; a clerk said not to worry. He told Karl to mail a followup letter that included his wife's date of death. But the checks continued to come. Karl needed the money, so he cashed his wife’s checks.
When SSA finally realized its mistake, it sent Karl a letter saying that he owed SSA $5,900 plus interest. Karl receives only $12,000 a year, which is slightly above poverty level. The only savings that he ever had--$5,000--was spent on his wife’s funeral. He fought on Iwo Jima, site of one of the most furious battles of World War II. The battle left him deaf in one ear and almost blind in one eye.
His small house used to be in a good neighborhood. He takes the bus once a week to visit his wife's grave. The rest of his time is spent at home, where he carves wooden military figures that he donates to a local charity. The charity sells the carvings and uses the money to help feed the homeless.
SSA gave Karl six months to pay the debt in full. Otherwise, the SSA letter said, the agency would seize his home. Karl wrote back, asking if it would be okay to pay $30 a month. That was all he could afford.