By Day Four, even though a who’s who of pros (e.g., KVD, Skeet Reese, Kelly Jordon, Gerald Swindle) still mathematically had a shot to win, the possibility that Lane would be overtaken seemed unlikely. Chris Lane had missed the cut, finishing 59th, but he stayed in Tennessee to root on his brother. As the final twelve queued up to weigh in I cornered Chris backstage and asked him questions similar to those I asked Bobby three years later. What will this mean to your brother’s career? What will it mean to your family? Does he have to buy dinner tonight?
Chris tried to be a good interview subject but he was too nervous to stay focused on my questions. “What do you think that guy has?” he’d ask. Or perhaps “What was so-and-so’s weight?” Finally, he had to excuse himself to give the proceedings his undivided attention. When Bobby was announced as the winner, Chris pumped his fist with excitement.
I haven’t spent that much time around the Lane brothers, so I don’t know if they’re always in each other’s corner. I’m sure that over nearly 40 years of brotherhood, they’ve had some battles, probably kicked the crap out of each other a few times. But when it comes down to brass tacks, my limited experience tells me that there’s nothing they wouldn’t do to see the other succeed. That’s probably pretty rare on tour in general – from what I can tell few “partnerships” seem to last, and jealousy and suspicion eventually override any good will among anglers who were once super-tight. I’d argue that it’s also pretty rare among brothers.
For better or for worse, my one brother doesn’t share my profession, the same interests or the same family structure. I’m happy for his successes in those arenas, but it’s easy to be supportive because we’re never in direct competition with each other. If each of us had the same goal to build a particular type of business or run a sub-three-hour marathon or get our kids into Harvard, and he were to achieve those goals sooner, I know I’d feel at least a tinge of jealousy. If you’re honest with yourself, unless you’re an absolute saint, you probably should admit that you would too. I’m sure at various points in their careers, both Bobby and Chris have felt at least slightly conflicted, knowing that the other has taken a step forward when he has not. Bobby was the first one to win an Elite event. Chris was the first one to win a major title. From what I can tell, though, the bottom line is that they’re each other’s biggest fans.
Congratulations to Chris on dealing with the glare of the spotlight as if he deserved to be there, which he did.
Congratulations to Bobby too. He handled the “second fiddle” role with grace and class.
One Classic, two winners.