The Masters has produced some great stories. Here is my favorite from the 2014 Masters.
Billy Casper was one of the top golfers in the world in 1968. He was in Japan for some tournaments. While there, he was asked if he would visit some of the wounded American troops from the Vietnam War. He was glad to do it.
At a hospital in Japan Casper was visiting some troops, and saw a young man who had been wounded so badly that he was hardly recognizable. The doctor told them that he was Marine 1st Lt. Patrick Cleburne “Clebe” McClary and suggested that he didn’t need to speak to him because McClary “was ready to die.”
On that March 3, 1968, McClary said, “I had given up. I wanted to die, and I would have died if it had not been for him.” McClary had lost his left arm, his left eye, and was severely wounded during a reconnaissance mission in Vietnam.
Casper walked over to his bed, took him by the hand and said, “God could use you some day. Don’t give up.” McClary said he then thanked him for what he had done for his country and concluded by saying, “God bless you.”
McClary decided he could live and God had a purpose for him that turned his life around.
I have been with Clebe McClary at a few Fellowship of Christian Athletes Camps and events. He has spoken at Frazer on several occasions. He would come to Montgomery at least a couple of times a year to speak to the young Air Force Officers in school at Maxwell.
Last fall Jay Haas, a professional golfer, saw Clebe McClary at an event in South Carolina. He heard about his story. He asked if he would like to meet Billy Casper. McClary said he really would. Jay Haas arranged for their meeting at the 2014 Masters in Augusta, Georgia.
Clebe McClary still wears a patch over his eye and functions well with the loss of his left arm. He is still an avid athlete. When he saw Casper, they just embraced. Both of them started crying. Everybody around them started crying. Clebe McClary just tried to tell him that he could never thank him enough. The embrace lasted for about five minutes.
McClary said, “Billy Casper is the reason I am alive. I was ready to die, but he gave me hope.” Today McClary is a motivational speaker who has given talks in all 50 states. He has influenced the lives of thousands of people. It all went back to a hospital bed in Japan when Billy Casper gave him a word of hope.
God is constantly putting people in our paths that need a word of hope. Do we give it?
My life has been so enriched by Clebe McClary. Thanks to Billy Casper for giving hope to Clebe. Thanks to Jay Haas for putting them together. Thanks to Brent Krause, 2007 Golf Professional of the Year, for telling me about this story.
Haas, Casper, and McClary are the real winners at the 2014 Masters!