April 12, 2010
Golf got the second biggest story it could have hoped for with Phil winning his third green jacket Sunday...but the result was the best by far for the state of golf.
Had Tiger won it would have been the biggest story but not the best in my opinion. It would have been the biggest return win since Hogan's win after his car wreck. But now Phil is on another level.
Not only is he this year's Masters champion, he went out and beat everyone else including Tiger to win it. Tiger played nearly as bad as he could through the first 6 holes and still had a great chance until the 14th.
So now you not only have a Tiger Woods back on the scene with something to "prove" to the world, but you have a Tiger who has something to prove to himself. A hungry Tiger, who I am sure sees Phil emerging as a viable threat to his hopes of winning 7 green jackets and possibly a roadblock to his claiming the all-time Majors' crown.
I have been a Phil Mickelson fan since I followed him 4 days on foot back in 99, at Pinehurst, in the US Open when he was still skinny, bright-eyed and with a wrinkled-free face. Sunday Lefty stamped his name as an-all time great among greats. Just one more Masters win and a U.S. Open win and he will easily be in my top 5-6 all time.
As for Tiger. To me he lost this Masters just like he has done many of the other previous five along with a few more, because of a wayward driver and the insistence on hitting it off the tee with giant swings, instead of pulling that three wood out of the bag and playing from the fairway.
The pressure of the circumstance is certainly not to blame. I think Tiger would be the first to tell you as much. He did not choke because he was rusty. He just choked. He made lots of putts...but in the end a misread on 14 was his downfall. However, the championships was all the better for him being in it, and I was amazed that he had that chance to get to 10 under on 14 with the way he played on Sunday.
Just the fact that had that putt dropped he would have been right there is a true testament to his competitive spirit and his greatness as a champion.
So why then would the media and people like Tom Watson want to stifle his stride by censuring his on course behavior?? The post-round interview Kostis did with Woods along with the way Nance sat in the Butler Cabin pontificating to Faldo about Tiger's "on-tee rants/lapses" made me embarrassed to be a part of the sporting press.
If you want Tiger, and truly believe he has had a positive impact on the game, then it is simple. Let him be who he is. Take him for both his Virtues and faults. Please don't let what has happened in his private/personal life become some tool to publicly scrutinize him; placing the man under a microscope while holding him to some impossible, and moreover absurd level of accountability. I know it may be hard to believe after watching him all these years...but Tiger is just a human being after all. Besides no one seemed to care if Tiger let a foul word slip or a club fly 10 years ago....well maybe a few people cared but no one was listening....
So why should people listen to those mouth-breathers now? I say this to Tiger: You are who you are....be yourself. That is true courage and he has it in spades.
Now I am ready for Pebble Beach. Sunday was a prelude to a decade of showdowns between the "People's Man" in Phil Mickelson....and the golfer that was/is the true man of the people.... the one and only Tiger Woods!!!
Fore!!! PGA Tour Major Golf hailing from: "Tiger Woods hungry --with something to prove, while Lefty is riding cloud 9," is NOW on the tee