There were so many things Chris Logan could have done last Fourth of July.
He could have slept in. He could have hung around his apartment and gone out later for a holiday barbecue. One item pretty far down his list that day was to walk around Aronimink Golf Club in 95-degree heat for several hours watching the final round of competition in the AT&T National.
Eventually, his love of the game combined with the lure of tickets, and Logan traveled to the golf course with a friend. But he had his day cut short when a tee shot from Sean O'Hair, one of his favorite players, struck him in the left temple at the 18th hole.
As emergency medical technicians hustled him to a nearby tent to be examined, Logan had no idea this would be the luckiest day of his life.
While checking him out for a concussion, a doctor inquired about a lump just below his throat and urged him to visit his family doctor to get it checked out. The lump turned out to be a malignant tumor on his thyroid. He underwent two surgeries less than six weeks after being struck by the ball.
Almost one year after it happened, Logan, who now is cancer-free, finally got to meet and shake hands Tuesday with O'Hair at Waynesborough Country Club, where O'Hair and fellow Tour player Hunter Mahan were giving a junior golf clinic.
"Sorry," O'Hair said as the two men shook hands.
"Thank you," Logan said, almost at the same time.
"We had a little battle on what to say," said Logan, 25, of West Chester. "He hit me in the head and then helped me out with the cancer diagnosis. So that was pretty funny. He's a really nice guy, glad to finally meet him."
The 28-year-old O'Hair, who also lives in West Chester, called the whole episode "something cool to be involved with.
"You feel bad about hitting him, but yet you feel good that he found out about the cancer, found it early, and got it worked on," he said. "It's a cool experience."
A cool one, and certainly one that makes you wonder how much fate plays a role in everyday life.
There were a lot of "what-ifs." What if Logan had not decided to go to the tournament? What if he had continued to follow the leaders on the back nine instead of going back to watch O'Hair play his final hole? What if he, a former caddie at Overbrook Golf Club, had done a better job of following the flight of the ball and gotten out of the way?
"I don't want to say I haven't thought about it, but . . ." said Logan, his voice starting to crack. "I guess fate would be the word I would use. I'm not sure how much more in depth I can go. But if there wasn't fate working that day, I'd be lying to myself. We could have stayed home. I could have stayed up around the [18th] green and just watched Sean putt."
Logan credited his friend, Scott D'Annunzio, for waking him up and convincing him to go to the golf course.
"He said, 'I've never been to a PGA Tour event, we've got two free passes, I'm not letting you say no,' " he said. "And things worked out perfectly after that."
Logan, who played three years of lacrosse at the University of Pittsburgh and now is a graduate student at Immaculata when he's not helping his father, Bob, a financial planner, said his body, his cap, and his sunglasses were going in three different directions when O'Hair's ball struck him.
He wanted to wait until O'Hair got to his ball and perhaps get an autograph, a function players usually perform when their ball plunks a spectator. But the EMTs hustled him off right away, fearing a concussion.
"I didn't feel bad at all, maybe a little disoriented," Logan said. "But the doctor checked out my whole head and neck and she just pointed to a lump and asked, 'What's this?' I told her I had no idea. They debated whether I should go to the hospital, but she said to check in with my doctor in the next week.
"I guess I almost didn't want to find out what the answer was going to be. My doctor saw it and recommended getting a biopsy. That started the whole process, which ended up being more eventful than we thought it would be."
The biopsy was inconclusive. So doctors decided to remove about three-quarters of the thyroid on Aug. 12 and test it the next day. The results came back positive for cancer, and the remainder of Logan's thyroid was taken out the very next day.
To ensure all the cancerous cells in his thyroid would be destroyed, Logan took a radioactive iodine pill about a month later, forcing him to remain isolated for 72 hours, time he spent at his parents' home in Malvern. He now takes daily medication to replace his thyroid functions.
"I've probably gone through three or four checkups since," he said. "I had an ultrasound that pretty much said the scarring is down and the space looks good. Only the thyroid cells are the cancer cells. Luckily they caught that early enough."
The fact that he's healthy means his friends can keep teasing him about last July 4th.
"They're like, 'Aren't you a caddie? What kind of idiot lets a ball hit him in the head after they've been on a golf course thousands of times?' " he said.
Sometimes, it pays off.