Wayward Graeme McDowell Drive Leads To Fan’s Diagnosis

Fans are routinely struck by golf balls at PGA Tour events. With dense galleries hugging tight fairways and players pursuing aggressive lines, it’s the cost of doing business — no different than occupying the seats along the foul lines of a baseball stadium that are most susceptible to scorching line drives.

But when Graeme McDowell missed someone with an off-target drive during the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach — the week, as you’ll recall, the Northern Irishman changed the trajectory of his own life by winning his first major championship — he unwittingly set in motion a fateful chain of events that wouldn’t be paid off for another 11 years

Golf blogger Jared Doerfler shared the details from his Twitter account last Friday, fresh from a long-awaited meeting with the man whose wayward tee shot revealed some difficult yet necessary information about his father.

“Life can be full circle,” Doerfler tweeted. “At the 2010 U.S. Open, Graeme hit a ball left. My dad fell trying to get out of the way. It was his first sign something goofy that led to his [multiple sclerosis] diagnosis.” 

As you can see below, the PGA Tour helped facilitate some face time between the Doerflers and G-Mac at the QBE Shootout. It turns out McDowell’s mother has MS, so he understands better than most just how crucial it is to identify and begin to treat the symptoms of such a confounding neurological disease. 

It’s yet another reminder of how social media can shrink the universe, as well as a spotlight on the goodness and relatability so often hiding beneath the veneer of world-class golf talent.

For his part, McDowell expressed a desire to stay in contact with the Doerflers and seemed to indicate he might use his platform to bring more awareness to a disease that still has no known cure.

“Just amazing to spend time with you and your dad Jared,” McDowell tweeted. “He truly is an inspiration. Look forward to talking more about MS and how we can help other people. See you soon.”