Monday, April 12, 2010
It was Tiger's party, and who else but Phil Mickelson would crash it.
In what was maybe the most anticipated PGA Tournament ever, Tiger Woods' received outstanding applause throughout the entire course at Augusta. In the first two rounds, Tiger showed very little rust in his first competitive appearance after one of the most bizarre absences of any professional athlete.
Tiger was lurking, in the hunt, seemed poised to make one of his patented moves to take over a Major PGA Tournament.
In the end, it was his Phil Mickelson, a man the media had always proclaimed as Tiger's only true rival, who put on the Green Jacket.
Mickelson took control on Saturday when he had consecutive Eagles and just missed a trifecta by a couple of feet. On Sunday, Mickelson only grew stronger as he played a bogey free final round of golf at perhaps one of the toughest courses in the world.
Mickelson was always seen as the choke artist. The Buffalo Bills and city of Cleveland rolled into one. As usual, Phil had his choke opportunity on 13. He's been labeled as "reckless" and a "gambler." 90 percent of the time, Phil would choke. But on Sunday, Mickelson hit a ball through the trees, barley making the green. The shot will probably be the shot that defines his career. If he comes up a couple feet short, the ball falls into the water and the legend of the greatest choke artist continues.
A week earlier, Mickelson had said he wanted to be paired with Tiger in the opening round of The Masters. Maybe Phil needed Tiger more than Tiger needed golf.
When it was all said and done, Mickelson walked off 18 to a roaring applause to be greeted by his family. We know the story his family has endured this past year. Before Phil had even won, the story had already been written.
Good prevails over evil. Truth over cheat. Morality wins the weekend.
Ahh, the feel good story of the year.
The funny thing is, all these people who were praising Mickelson and demonizing Woods, were the same people praising Woods two years ago at the 2008 US Open.
How soon we forget. Tiger had just come off knee surgery and basically limped his way to an 18 hole playoff victory. Tiger was greeted by his wife and daughter on the 18th. It was a picture perfect moment. A Kodak moment. A Hallmark moment. Tiger was perfect. A family man. He had won this moment for his family, a day after Father's Day.
Now, two years later, we're saying the same about Phil Mickelson, at the same time creating the same Tiger Woods as a villain. Is that fair? No, life isn't fair. Yes, Tiger cheated on his family and commited adultery. But do any of us really know Tiger and Phil? Can we really label one as a true hero and the other a villain?
That's the easy way out. That's what the world wants to hear. The good guy won. Would we say the same if K.J. Choi or Lee Westwood had won?
What happened this past week was Phil Mickelson played the best 4 rounds of golf at The Masters.
We all cheered when Mark McGwire broke the homerun record with his son at his side and embraced the Maris family. We cheered when Kobe Bryant won three NBA Championships. Only later did we find out that these guys cheated in different ways.
All I'm saying is that we should not judge people we don't know. Because sometime down the road we'll realize we're wrong. You can google Phil Mickelson right now, and one of the first things that comes up is "affair." Yeah, it's all rumors, but so were Tiger's affairs at one point.
Let's just take it for what it is, Phil Mickelson playing four brilliant rounds of golf at one of the greatest courses in the game.
If Tiger had won, would the headlines scream, "Sympathy for the Devil?"