Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mattiace's Dream Dissolves on No. 17

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mattiace's Dream Dissolves on No. 17

Article excerpt

PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- Lou Mattiace seems like a tough-talking

New Yorker, full of verve and vinegar and a Bronxlike brogue

thicker than rush-hour traffic on Long Island. But yesterday all

that toughness and all those street smarts melted away and what

we saw underneath was a moment dripping with drama and oozing

with hurt and heartache.

We saw a father aching for a shaken son who had just come

unglued. And we saw a husband hurting for a cancer-stricken

wife. And we saw dreams dying and a man crying. And more

heart-thumping, throat-lumping emotion than we've lived at The

Players Championship since exactly 10 years ago when local

favorite Mark McCumber triumphantly marched down the 18th

fairway a misty-eyed champion.

A decade later, it was another local boy, 29-year-old Len

Mattiace, who was trudging up the 18th fairway. Except this

time, the tears came for a different reason. They came because

Len had just melted down on the No. 17 Island Hole to drown his

chances for the most monumental victory of his career.

It would have been a huge win for a number of reasons -- for

the money, for the exemption, for the fact he played prep golf

at nearby Nease High School and lives next door at Sawgrass

Country Club. And mainly because Joyce Mattiace was here to see

it.

Joyce is Len's 61-year-old mother, a bespectacled woman in a

wheelchair who was diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago.

Inoperable lung cancer. The black mass is still living in her

body and it's a beast. And the doctors cannot do anything about

it except attack it with chemicals and radiation and hope it

miraculously decides to retreat.

Joyce rarely gets out these days, her body sapped by the

constant chemotherapy and radiation treatments. But on this

sunny honey of a weekend, she wanted out of the house to watch

Lenny play. And oh, how Lenny played. He birdied No. 1, No. 4,

No. 6, No. 8, No. 10, No. 11 and No. 12. And he birdied No. 16

and No. 18, too.

But 17. Damn that 17. He was 1 shot behind leader Justin

Leonard going into the Island Hole, and he was on fire. …

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