Centuries of false truths upended. An entire sport redefined. Madalitso Muthiya did both at the U.S. Open in New York on June 5, 2006, armed only with a glistening driver, inexplicable talent, and stern but loving tutelage from his father. His warm smile and casual demeanor cloaked a hardened determination that came from a life surrounded by disease and extreme poverty and enduring the awkward stares and quiet whispers that made him an outsider.
To everyone here, "Mad" was new. A fresh face. An unexpected splash of uniqueness that sent fans scrambling for information. But their tournament programs didn't reveal the origin of his story. It certainly wasn't a stately golf course in New York under the warm morning sky, rubbing elbows with the well-heeled. The elite. It began decades earlier, oceans and continents away, in a land defined by one peoples' crimes against another. Racism, forced labor, cultures destroyed, families torn apart.
History was often his fuel. At other times, a lead weight chained to his golf bag. A burden he carried everywhere, to every tournament until his father's voice exhorted him to let it go. 'Just focus on what you need to do.'
At 9:01 AM on June 5 his ball and tee were firmly planted. The fairway beckoned in front of him. The heavens shined down. A single display of his God-given swing would change golf. Forever.