Did you catch the Masters’ Tournament this weekend? If not, I can some it up simply and easily:
Phamily Phil pulled it off. Phidelity Phil beat Terrible Tiger. The right guy won. The nice guy finished first. Lefty did right. In the land of green, it was pink that defeated the black and red. And the other guy–at least for now–had to settle for fourth place, a position for which he showed little gratitude.
Phil Mickelson–he with a wife battling cancer–won the first major tournament of the year in dominating fashion. He hit shots off of grass, sand and pine needles. He hit ’em low under trees and skied ’em high with a 64-degree club. And to fans along the way he gave fist pumps and high fives, signed autographs, tipped his cap often and, oh yes, smiled throughout.
Tiger Woods cussed less, and smiled when a fairway shot luckily found the hole for a miracle eagle. But other than that, he hung behind his bodyguards, missed shots he used to make, sloppily missed a tap-in to all but end it, and was about the least inspiring figure on the course.
And afterwards, when asked to give some grand perspective to the week, what was Tiger’s response for the national television audience?
“Congratulations to Phil; wow, he really deserved it.” No.
“Well, first I’d just like to thank all of the patrons at Augusta, and you all in the press, who have been so gracious to me this week.” No.
“You know, to come out here and play against the best players in the world, after a five-month layoff, and be treated so, so well by them and to finish fourth as a bonus. Yes, David, I’m thrilled.” No.
“There are a lot of players out here dealing with challenging external circumstances and they still play well. I brought on my own circumstances internally, so my hats off to everyone out here who’s dealing with tough stuff off the course that’s not really known about. I hope to be less of a distraction to everyone in the future.” No.
Instead, he just complained that he didn’t win. He got fourth. Nothing else mattered. I now want to take back everything I said about the sincerity of his ownership of his situation. Perhaps it was just a selfish competitive post-tournament moment. But he looked like he’d learned nothing. “They will know you by your fruits,” Jesus said. This fruit was bad. or at least will need a little more time.
And there was Phil, hugging his kids and not letting go of his bride, who got out of bed just to come watch the final hole and congratulate her husband. “I don’t know if we said anything,” Mickelson would say later. “We just hugged.” Wow! Could there have been any starker contrast drawn between the inspirational depth of family love vs., well, whatever you call the path Tiger’s been on.
Hats off to you Phil. A tip of the cap to you. May the Lord bless and help and guide you and your family as you battle cancer.
And Tiger, may He give you some self-awareness, grace and healing that I hope you still find ahead.
And our prayers go out for Mrs. Woods (Elin) and Mrs. Mickelson (Amy), who are both going through living hells at the moment.
Read more along the same lines from the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Daugherty, the L.A. Times’ Bill Plaschke and the Associated Press.