Posted by: mseewv | April 12, 2010

Lefty Does It Again – A Phil Good Story

Over the last five months, golf has worn a proverbial black eye due to Tiger’s indiscretions.

This week was golf’s greatest tradition – The Masters. It was also Tiger’s return to golf after his childish behavior over the last few years. There was all of the hoopla that one could imagine. It all started with a carefully scheduled press conference on Monday – the same day as the NCAA’s National Championship Game, the announcing of the list for the NBA Hall of Fame and baseball’s opening day. Perfect timing eh? How about skillfully planned? This press conference gave the national media their first cracks at Tiger, they had all been salivating since Thanksgiving 2009. Tiger fared well and he certainly didn’t come out smelling like a rose but he did come out positioning himself for a win.

But all that didn’t matter when he stepped onto the first tee at Augusta on Thursday. How would he play? How would the galleries react? Would they give him that same warm welcome? Would he shank another tee shot, slam his club and then fly off the handle with a line of curse words that would make a sailor blush? Well on Thursday he did not. He came out hot. He played fairly well and kept himself in position leading into the weekend. He seemed to be a little lighter. Acknowledging the fans as he walked past the galleries. He would tee off on Sunday just 3 shots off the lead.

Now on to the other story. Phil Mickelson used be characterized as golf’s greatest star to never win a major. In a way it is like that quarterback that played for so long, broke a bunch of records but never won the Super Bowl. Well, in 2004 Phil did just that. He won the Masters. Since then he has won many other tournaments, including the Masters again and the US Open at Winged Foot. But it is not Phil’s golf game that sets him apart from the others. It is the way he carries himself on and off the course. I was able to experience this first hand in NY last summer when Katie and I traveled with mom and dad to see the 2009 US Open at Bethpage Black. This was Phil’s first tournament back after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time. He was so grateful as he walked to each tee box and green, greeted by an uproar of fan support. I can remember seeing Tiger for the first time and as he would walk past the galleries the fans would reach out trying to get a five or at least an acknowledgment but no, not from the great Tiger! Phil on the other hand could always be seen tipping his cap to the grounds, waving or giving fist bumps as he made his way to the tee box.

This was the same scene on Sunday. Phil found himself tied for the lead most of the day on Sunday and after making a beautiful shot on the 14th where he was stuck behind a tree and made a shot that would even make the bull-headed Tiger blush. Phil continued to press on as he finished his last 6 holes. The man one hole ahead of him, the one who led into the week with all of the hoopla was slowly blowing up shot by shot and putt by putt finishing fourth and six behind the eventual winner.

As Phil rounded the last patch of grass walking to the tee box at 18 he was still giving fist bumps and fives to the crowd as he walked to take his final drive of the 2010 Masters. Phil stayed strong and finished out the day winning his 3rd Green Jacket with a 3 shot lead. But as Tiger finished one hole ahead of him, Tiger got the longest interview. Tiger once again came off arrogant and Tiger once again will get the most headlines, TV time and talk radio time tomorrow.

As Phil tipped his cap to the crowd after he sunk his birdie on the 18th hole, he headed straight for the gallery to make a memorable embrace with his wife Amy, his three children and his Mother and Father.

So I ask you, does golf really have a black eye? Or is it where media has us focused? There is a great story here lying under all of Tiger’s BS. I am tired of hearing his whining when a shot doesn’t go his way, I am just tired. Golf does not need Tiger Woods to survive. It needs more stories like Phil Mickelson.

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