Did you hear about the dramatic duel that Hall of Fame golfer Phil Mickelson recently took part in? No, I am not talking about his one-on-one battle with Tiger Woods out in Las Vegas. I am talking about his final round battle at the 2019 Desert Classic. It looked as if “Lefty” would win his 44th career PGA Tour event because he just had to withstand a challenge from the 417th ranked player in the world. Yes, you heard that right, Phil Mickelson, who earns about $50 million per year was dueling it out with Adam Long.
If you’ve never heard of him, then you’re not alone. In the last five months, Adam Long had earned just under $14,000 in his only made cut. He is a guy that had only one previous professional win and that was in 2011 on the Hooters Tour. Adam Long is a guy that finished last year as only the 13th best player . . . on the Web.com Tour. His odds of winning the event were 500:1. There were only 5 players of the 150 teeing it up that weekend that had worse odds to win. But here was Adam Long, not just competing with the legendary Mickelson but eventually defeating him by one stroke in a thrilling finish. Adam Long won a little more than $1 million for the victory – which by the way, increased his career winnings by nearly 8,000 percent.
This might seem a natural story for an up-and-comer, but Adam Long isn’t a young hotshot. He is 31 years old, which is ancient in terms of being a PGA rookie. Adam Long didn’t expect to win the tournament – even when he was in the final Sunday pairing. He just wanted to finish in the top-10 so he could play in the next tournament.
Failure after failure. Nothing indicated that he’d be successful. But he did think his game was getting better. “It seemed like it (the win) came out of nowhere,” Long said, “but my game has been trending in the right direction for a couple of years now.”
You never know when your big break will come. You never know when your opportunity will come. As Winston Churchill liked to say, “Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Long kept believing in himself and working so he’d be ready when his opportunity arrived.
It’s almost cliché to talk about trusting the process, but that’s just what Adam Long did. “A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step” says the old Chinese proverb. I bet that Long has heard or seen that before.
The unseen hours. That is where champions are made. Hour after hour fighting the urge to quit. Hour after hour honing your craft. We didn’t see what Adam Long did with his unseen hours, but we definitely saw the results one week when he seized his opportunity.
The unseen hours bring to mind Jacob Riis and when he said, “I look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow, it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”
Are you frustrated with your results? Are you struggling to endure? Do your goals seem unattainable? Does your destination seem far away? Remember the stone cutter. Remember Adam Long. Remember that the great basketball coach John Wooden was a head coach for 18 years before he won the first of his 10 national championships.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, said “All overnight success takes 10 years.” Be willing to pay your dues. Be wiling to put in the time. Be willing to stay the course. Don’t give up. Be prepared when your opportunity comes.