Monday, July 22, 2013
TIGER WOODS WANTS WHAT PHIL MICKELSON HAS
Tiger Woods has made more money, earned more endorsements, and has won nearly three
times the number of majors Phil Mickelson has. But in the final round of the British Open,
the entire world found out that Mickelson is the richer and far better man. It may seem like
Tiger has everything, but in comparison to Lefty, he really has nothing.
On Sunday, we saw the adulation and love for Mickelson is universal. The fans across the
pond have as much admiration for Lefty as he does in his own backyard. As he made his
way to the 18th tee, there were high-fives, fist bumps, and encouraging words for the player
who had never cradled the Claret Jug. As always, Mickelson embraced it. He smiled, nodded,
and seemingly thanked everyone for their support.
That never happens with Tiger. Oh, people cheer him, but their high-fives and fist bumps
receive nothing but air. Tiger marches to the next hole as if he's stalking his prey. Too big,
too important, and too focused to notice the people who want to love and connect with
him. Tiger doesn't have to say anything, but his look speaks for him. "Don't touch me,
I'm Tiger Woods", is what everybody hears, even if it is not spoken.
Mickelson started the day five shots back of the lead, which on the unforgiving course
at Muirfield, seemed impossible to overcome. But there was Lefty, smiling, grinding,
and acknowledging the fans who appreciated his good shots along the way.
Tiger, who has never come from behind to win a major, started the day just two shots
off the lead, but as soon as he bogeyed the first hole, everything changed. His body
language sagged, the profanity increased, and the pressure he once laughed at, appeared
to be crushing him. There would be no comeback, or even just one signature Tiger
Woods moment. He went as flat as an uncapped soda that had been left on the counter
for three days.
Meanwhile, Mickelson soared and smiled, becoming even more likable than he already
was. Those behind him came tumbling down like a house of cards. Lee Westwood rediscovered
his demons and Adam Scott repeated his failures from the final round of the same tournament
a year ago.
This became Lefty's tournament to win and he took it, winning by three strokes, after a
mind-boggling round of 66. But that was golf, real life took over after he sank his final putt.
Their was a spine-tingling, heart- warming hug with his wife and three children. It was a
picture worth more than a 1,000 words.
As Mickelson picked up his Claret Jug and thanked seemingly every person in his life,
there was shot of his longtime caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay, crying like a baby, overcome
with emotion at the moment. The love for his boss was crystal-clear. It was almost ironic
that Tiger walked nearly side-by-side in the final with his former caddie Stevie Williams,
who had been on his bag for all but one of his majors. Their relationship ended with bitterness
Mickelson had everything at the moment, everything Tiger Woods wanted: admiration, a tight-
knit family to savor the moment, mutual love and respect with his caddie, and another major.
It was both romantic and poetic.
It's been said that you can learn a lot about a person by the way he acts in a round of golf.
The last 18 holes of the British Open revealed so much about Phil Mickelson and Tiger
Woods. I was a big fan of Tiger even after it was revealed that he was a serial cheater. What
he did off the course was no business of mine. I admired his as an elite athlete, one who was
so talented and mentally tough, he used to melt other golfers by just showing up.
However, that changed on Sunday. I am no longer a fan of Tiger Woods. He revealed a
lot about himself in the final round, not as a golfer, but as a person, and I'm tired of his
Phil Mickelson is what every great golfer should be: talented, full of class, and a Claret
Jug-sized amount of respect for the game and the people who watch it.