The first rule of professionalism in sports journalism is to put your rooting interests aside and be objective and unbiased.
For the bulk of my career, I've held firm to that conviction.
This week? Damn the rules.
It started with my beloved St. Louis Blues winning the first Stanley Cup in the franchise's 52-year history. The team that always seemed to find a way to break their fans' hearts in the postseason somehow overcame the sports dynasty that Boston has become and win Game 7 on the road to take the cup.
On Thursday, the Capital-Journal sports staff got to celebrate the state's top high school athletes, many of whom I've personally covered with our Best of Kansas Preps banquet. Former Riley County, Kansas State and Green Bay Packers standout Jordy Nelson was the guest speaker, and quite frankly, we may never have a better role model to bring on stage for that event.
So how could the week get any better?
Well, Sunday it did. Hometown hero Gary Woodland, whom I've covered since his days at Shawnee Heights, became a major champion, winning the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Showing nerves of steel with some of the biggest names in golf, including world No. 1 and two-time reigning Open champion Brooks Koepka, giving chase, Woodland delivered on the promise and potential he's shown since he first picked up a golf club.
Gary Woodland. Major champion.
Just let that sink in.
Topeka athletes have accomplished plenty of great things on the biggest stages. Enough that when we did our Top 100 Shawnee County Athletes in 2011, Woodland, fresh off his first PGA Tour victory, came in at just No. 8.
Something tells me, he's climbed a few spots. Maybe even to No. 1.
Winning a PGA Tour title, especially in this day and age of so many great players, is no easy feat. Winning multiple titles, as Woodland has done, is even tougher.
Winning a major, as Woodland did Sunday against the best of the best, is darn near impossible. The toughest test in golf and Woodland passed it with flying colors.
Even put the emphatic stamp on the title, draining a bomb of a birdie putt on No. 18. One heck of a fist pump followed to punctuate an incredible week and an incredible tournament.
"Once that went in, it all kind of hit me," Woodland said of his final putt. "It was special to finish it off here at Pebble Beach."
And now he's the U.S. Open champion.
"It sounds really, really good," Woodland said. "I like that."
Make no mistake, this one was well earned. Woodland began Sunday's round in the same position he began Saturday's third round, leading a major. The last time Woodland led a major, last year's PGA Championship, he couldn't finish the deal and Koepka charged past him for the first of his two straight titles in that tournament.
This time around, Koepka was right there once again. The two-time defending Open champion began Sunday with a flourish, making birdie on four of the first five holes and saving a miraculous par on the only hole he didn't birdie.
Koepka quickly got to 11 under and just like that the pressure was squarely on Woodland's shoulders. And having never closed the deal on the biggest stage, that pressure could have been insurmountable.
And it wasn't like Koepka was alone in his close pursuit. Former Open champion Justin Rose was right there all day, most of it just a shot back, before fading late.
Major champions Louis Ooshuizen, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson also were lurking not far behind. So was Xander Schaeffele, who used a record-setting round earlier this year to deny Woodland a title at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
The Gary Woodland of old might have crumbled. As much outer confidence as Woodland has shown throughout his career, there had always been an underlying layer of self-doubt because of certain holes in his game that needed completed.
His work with Pete Cowan and Phil Kenyon in the last year-plus has filled those voids. They've supplied Woodland with the confidence that when his game breaks down, he can fix it.
And it had breakdowns on Sunday. After somewhat matching Koepka's hot start with birdies on two of his first three holes, Woodland had hiccups.
He found the back bunker on No. 7, an area that's repeatedly been an area of shortcoming in his game. He got loose off the tee on Nos. 9, 11, 12 and 13, making two bogeys in a four-hole stretch after having made only two bogeys the rest of the week.
"The swing got a little off," Woodland said. "The footwork got off a little bit, but I got refocused and the drive on No. 14 was huge."
Even bigger was the 3-wood from 263 yards that Woodland blistered to give himself a shot at eagle. He made birdie, turning what had been a one-shot lead over Koepka to two.
That in itself was big. Then came what easily was the shot of the tournament. His tee shot on the par-3 No. 17 was simply not good, finding the front right of one of the biggest greens at Pebble Beach.
Instead of putting, Woodland hit a wedge and darn near made it. He settled for a tap-in par and went to No. 18 needing only to bogey to win after Koepka saw his birdie putt two groups ahead slide just past the hole to keep the pressure on.
Woodland played it safe off the tee and his second shot, found the green easily with his third and then drilled the birdie putt to finish at 13 under, a shot better than Tiger Woods posted when he won the Open at Pebble Beach in 2000.
Woodland finished the week with just four bogeys, tying for the fewest number of bogeys in a U.S. Open with the likes of McIlroy and the late Payne Stewart. He was No. 1 for the week in scrambling, making 15 par saves from eight feet or longer during the week.
That included incredible par saves on Saturday when he chipped in on No. 12 and made a 50-footer for par on 14.
The expectations were Woodland might not have what it took to win on Sunday. That while others in the field knew they could win, Woodland was hoping he could win.
With his 3-wood on No. 14, Woodland said "We were playing to win."
Woodland showed some major chops and now he is a major champion.
And I'm on a major sports high.