John Rahm He teed off the 18th green at Augusta to claim his first Masters Championship on Sunday. Walking the grounds of the historic Augusta National Course is a dream for many golf lovers.
For 9-year-old Madeleine Quinn, her path to the Masters was part of her bucket list, which also included meeting her idol, Tiger Woods. And he might not do without his new heart—something of a modern miracle.
Madeleine was born with a ventricular septal defect, a hole in her heart. His mother said he could not gain weight, and his breathing was rapid as a child.
He has undergone three open heart surgeries.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through and then it just got worse and worse and worse,” said his father, Greg Quinn.
At 18 months, Madeleine was placed on the transplant list. Doctors said he needed a bigger heart to keep functioning, maybe five years old. Four months later, they got the call: A perfect match had been found. The surgery was a success and for the first time, Madeleine’s cheeks were pink and she even had an appetite.
Now, he celebrates the “birthday of the heart”.
“I’m living my best life,” Madeline said. “I am very happy and grateful.”
He found his passion – and his calling: golfing.
“Whenever I hit a driver, I just feel pumped up and I’m ready,” he said. “And I really like the challenge.”
Madeleine picks up a club for the first time in 2, starting with a toy and quickly moving on to an iron. His father, a former PGA pro, started showing videos of Woods playing golf as a child and says it inspired him.
“Whenever I have a tournament, my dad always says, ‘What’s the goal today? And I say, ‘Here’s to having the most fun,'” she said.
Madeleine wanted to see Woods play in person, so two months ago, her father bought tickets to the Genesis Invitational, and Madeleine made a bucket list poster that included meeting Woods.
As luck would have it, Woods’ caddy saw Madeleine’s sign and whispered something to Woods, who then approached him, checked his bucket list sign box and handed him a signed glove.
“I’m usually really polite, but he handed me the glove and my dad said, ‘Thank you.’ And I’m like, ‘Thank you?’
“I was thinking, ‘Wow, this really happened. I really did meet the best golfer in the world,'” he recalled.
After that, he had one more item on his bucket list: the Masters. His dream is to play in tournaments. For now, she had a chance to appear — a stranger with connections to Augusta saw her story on social media and invited her.
“It was very special that I got to go there,” he said. “It was very green, beautiful. I want to get back on the plane and get my clubs and play 18 holes.”
While play was suspended at times due to rain, Madeline said she didn’t mind getting wet because she was focused on golf.
“I’m learning from their driving, I’m learning from their fairway hits. I’m also learning from their chipping and putting,” she said.
“I was just picturing myself swinging like them, and I thought, ‘I can be as good as them or one day better,'” he added.
Pushing through adversity early on seems to have given young Madeleine a sensitivity that transcends her years. He said he enjoys telling his stories to make people happy.
Her family says they never forget the kindness of strangers, especially the family that gave their daughter a heart.
“There is hope. There is some good that can come from everything,” said Alison Quinn.