The first box? That was the easiest to check, simply because Madelyn is a fighter and she has more get-up-and-go than a Tiger Woods stinger tee shot. But the second box? Oh, does she have a story.
And it’s so very, very cool. So let’s have her tell it, because 9-year-old girls and boys are actually the best storytellers. We’ll just ask some questions.
It’s Saturday, and they’re playing pro golf near where she plays. Dad bought Genesis Invitational tickets the night before, and they roam all over historic Riviera Country Club. Madelyn carries a white poster board.
All of the golf is inspiring. But these boys need to watch her. Madelyn’s mom, Alyson, and dad, Greg, a former teaching pro, have videos, and it’s as if you’re seeing something out of a how-to book.
Who’s your favorite player?
“Tiger and Phil. Adam Scott. I like Rory McIlroy. I like Jack Nicklaus, even though he’s not really playing anymore; he used to be really good. I like Collin Morikawa. I like Justin Thomas. I like Jordan Spieth. I like a lot.”
Why is Tiger your favorite?
“Because he’s the greatest. He’s kinda the GOAT. And I did a book report on him last year. I think it was a biography. I don’t really remember. It was like a year ago. It was pretty cool.”
How’s your game?
“I think if you would put it like 1 to 10, I would probably put it 10. I go basically every day. I’m having friends get into it, so that’s going to be more. And I already have a couple good friend golfers. And I play in a bunch of tournaments. I basically win a medal in every tournament. Most of the time I shoot 40 to 38. On nine holes.”
When did you start playing?
“I started playing — I had a club in my hand when I was 2. I started playing competitively a year and a half ago. And if you count them, 25 medals. And five of those tour championships glasses. And I’m the junior club champion at my club.”
Who do you model your game after?
“My caddie slash dad.”
What kind of player is he?
“He’s pretty good.”
Have you beat him?
“Yeah, I beat him a lot. I’m pretty good. He’s pretty good. He gives me a couple strokes at our home course, and it’s pretty fun. We play a buck a hole, and I usually get two bucks at the end, or he gets a buck. [Dad whispers: It’s always really close.] It’s always really close. I mean, I always beat him.”
On Saturday at Riviera, her white poster board is drawing some looks, but that’s kinda the point. For one, it’s very well done. The penmanship is immaculate. It’s colorful. It tells a message. At the top, in black marker, it says: “My bucket list.” Right below that, in red marker, it says: “Get heart transplant,” and next to that is a red checkmark. At 1, Madelyn had one. She’s had four heart surgeries overall.
How are you feeling today?
“I’m feeling excellent. It was probably — I basically don’t remember it all. I was going through some tough times when I was one and a half, almost 2. I don’t really remember it. I’m feeling excellent. I keep my heart healthy by going to the doctor every three months, and I take meds twice a day and I just try to keep my heart healthy. I sometimes exercise with my mom and dad and I eat really, really healthy.”
Dad goes deeper. He says it’s a miracle.
“The day we got her back, on March 5th, we couldn’t believe our eyes. All we had known was this little girl with no energy, and pale, and cold to touch, and all of a sudden, rosy cheeks and she was warm to touch, even though she was just lying there intubated and knocked out, we could see the difference. She woke up, came to, she had her first meal. They warned us that she would likely have to go home with the feeding tube in her nose because she didn’t learn how to eat. Well, they quickly pulled that out once they saw her scarf her first plate of food and ask for a second plate of food. And there’s been no turning back.”