Sunday, April 11, 2010

Phil's Got A New Fan

I've never been much of a Phil Mickelson fan. He's a nice enough fella and a talented golfer, but he's never fired up much enthusiasm in me. 

As of today, I'm a fan.

Yeah, you guessed it. I've been one of the legion of Tigerites, hooked on the prodigious drives, laser-like approaches, and other-wordly putting, but the Masters provided more than enough evidence that when it comes to character, Phil wins in a romp.

Tiger put on his best face, contrite and uncharacteristically warm, and proceeded to put up three good rounds that left him within what would normally be striking range. Okay, I thought, maybe he's turned over a new leaf.

It didn't last.

On the 13th hole Tiger skied his drive and his f-bomb tirade was captured in high definition. On the next hole he
had four feet for birdie that would have left him close to the lead. He missed it, missed the two-foot par putt, tapped in for bogey and stonily walked to the 15th tee. Gone was the warmth, the humanity. All that was left was the greedy child that is Tiger Woods.

Meanwhile, Phil was calmly assessing his chances from the woods on 13, deciding in typical fashion to attempt a 205-yard shot off the pine needles, through the trees, over the pond to the linoleum hard green. Bingo.
The main difference between the two? Tiger was alone. Phil had family. Phil played courageously, emotionally, driven by the memory of truly awful year his wife has had battling breast cancer. 

And when he'd won and reached his wife by the scoring house, Phil took her in his arms and cried. CBS can be forgiven for replaying the tear streaking his cheek in slow motion.

Golf's a mysterious game but I'd dare say this much is true. Every golfer plays not only with his or her talent but with their whole life. Phil had a team. Tiger was alone. It was no contest.

Die Happy
by Brock Walsh will, with a little luck, appear in bookstores soon.

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