The first game in any major sport is daunting for a rookie. Pre-game butterflies and hype about the debut (particularly for a phenom), no doubt come into play. Among sports debuts, not many rival Jackie Robinson’s. While he did not set the world on fire, going 0-for-3 with a run scored, consider the obstacles that the young ballplayer had to overcome. Being the first black baseball player to play in a major league game, Robinson first had to hurdle the colour barrier that existed in the major leagues right up to 1947. Despite his gift for the game, he would have to overcome entrenched racism and second guessing. He would also have to get used to playing with established stars like Peewee Reese and Eddie Stanky, who may or may not have been welcoming to the youngster. He also had to face Boston Braves ace, Johnny Sain (“Spahn and Sain and pray for rain”) in his first at bat.
Not a debut, per se, but Bradley stunned the golf world by winning his first major (PGA Championship) in his first attempt. Bradley was having a rookie-of-the-year season on the PGA Tour in 2011, capturing the Byron Nelson Championship on the way. He wasn’t expected to do much at the PGA, but Bradley fired an impressive 64 in the second round and was only one stroke off the lead after the third round. In the final round, Bradley triple bogeyed 15 to fall five shots behind leader Jason Dufner, but birdied 16 and 17 to force a playoff. He won in a three-hole playoff to, going birdie-par-par, cementing his name alongside Francis Ouimet and Ben Curtis as the only players to win the first major they played in.