There’s nothing quite like a ‘rolling back the years’ story in sport.
Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Jimmy Connors, Steve Davis and plenty of others have thrilled crowds by defying their age to remind the young bucks what the phrase ‘class is permanent’ is all about.
Some sports lend themselves to it more than others and curling definitely gives the older competitors a fighting chance.
Wayne Middaugh didn’t win the Brier in Canada last week (their national championships) but he was definitely the curler everybody was talking about.
He’s an all-time legend but he hadn’t played a Brier since 2013 and he is 53.
Wayne broke his leg in 11 places in a skiing accident a few years ago, had a 15-inch titanium rod inserted and just being able to walk properly was a bigger goal than getting back on the ice.
But when our old coach Glenn Howard had a bad accident of his own recently – on a snowmobile this time – and broke about nine ribs, Wayne got the phone call to replace him at the Brier as skip of Team Howard.
As @TeamGlennHoward leaves the bubble I must say a huge thank you to @Timjmarch @dmathers123 @S_Howard14 @howardfour for giving an ol'guy the chance to chase the dream one more time. The Lord said come forth…. And we did. pic.twitter.com/jezZZKfcaL
— wayne middaugh (@waynemiddaugh) March 14, 2021
With a young team around him, Wayne (who coaches Team Hasselborg in the women’s game) took them through to the last eight and was unlucky not to go even further.
It was the feelgood tale curling needed in the Calgary bubble and has been big news over there.
I’m sure his body was aching this week but Wayne has shown the younger generation the true greats never lose their shot-making skills.
I watched a lot of the Brier and I also watched a lot of The Players golf championship, which provided another example of a sportsman drawing upon years of experience to stay relevant at the very top.
Lee Westwood hasn’t had to comeback from a skiing accident but he has had to fight his way up the rankings and into the big tournaments when most of the golfers in his age-group are getting themselves ready for the seniors tours.
For me, the biggest thing to take from Westwood’s success at Sawgrass when he was second, and the week before where he finished in the same spot, is that you need to trust what has served you well in the past and don’t try to be something you’re not.
And that’s something Rory McIlroy should be taking on board.
To hear him admit that Bryson DeChambeau had got into his head and he’d tried to make changes to his game on the back of what happened at the US Open was a big shock.
Golf, as Westwood has proved, has always offered the opportunity for players to do things their own way.
McIlroy is a good enough player to not be worrying about following the lead of player who, for all we know, might end up being a one-major wonder.
He’s made a mistake and needs to get back to the habits and strategies that took him to the top of the sport and can take him back there again.
I don’t suppose Rory was watching and learning from the curling last week but hopefully he was watching and learning from Lee Westwood.
We all have contractual media obligations before and after big sporting events and the Scottish rugby boys are no different.
But if ever there was a group for whom the expression ‘actions speak louder than words’ applies it’s Gregor Townsend’s men.
I don’t think any of us can bare to hear “we’re better than that” again!