Monday, April 12, 2010

Mickelson's the better man

Phil managed to not bogey any hole his entire final round en route to winning his 3rd Master's championship yesterday.  Yeah, there were other impressive aspects, like that ridiculous 6 iron off pine needles between two trees over a creek, landing just 3 feet from hole 13.  Or that great birdie putt on 12 or that birdie on the 18th to finish it off.  But, a clutch final round with no mistakes?  That was most impressive to me, golf wise.

Still, for all of us watching yesterday, the greatest moment was his post round embrace with his wife, who is still recovering from cancer.  A lot of people have accused Phil of being phony over the years.  I just don't get it.  He claims to love his wife.  He does.  He claims to love his kids.  No doubt.  He appreciates his fans.  No one signs more autographs than Phil.  He continually talks about how thankful and blessed he is.  He shows this by giving back - a huge benefactor for countless people in need.  And no one tips more generously than he does.  So what is so phony about Phil?  Name something that he claims about himself that he isn't?  Is he perfect?  No.  But he backs up what he says with what he does.  You can tell what a man loves by what he commits his time and money to.

The hype all this week was about Tiger's return.  The question was whether or not he was a changed man.  Was he truly penitent for what he did?  Well, he lined up a couple 5 minute interviews with ESPN and Golf Channel to soften the media questions at media sessions at Augusta.  He picked a return at a golf tournament that he knew was airtight press-wise.  Okay, that's a little too polished and planned out, but that's all fine.

Then Nike released the Tiger ad which I will never truly understand.  If Tiger really was remembering his dad's words to him, why not do that in private?  Because this wasn't about that.  It was about getting back in good repute with the sponsors and the fans.  The ad itself was done well but that is completely beside the point.  It was entirely tasteless.  His father's words were taken out of context, since we found out that Earl Woods was actually speaking about Tiger's mom.  We will never know what his dad would have said to him.  Even if we did, it is wrong to use his dead dad to further his corporate cause.  I lost even more respect for Tiger after that.

Tiger can claim that he loves his wife and his kids but when has he showed that?  Cheating on your wife with multiple women while your she is raising your infant children is not a sign of love.  It is a sign of extreme selfishness.  Who's the phony here? 

On the course this week, the old Tiger was back.  He played remarkably well, coming in 4th, even overcoming times on Sunday when it seemed that he couldn't even hit the ball solidly.  But here's the thing: his golf ability was never in question, his character is.  Tiger continually reacted immaturely to his bad shots as if he had forgotten that his comeback was not just about winning.  It was showing humility.  It was about the realization that he had done very very wrong and he needed to make things right.  It was about living up to the new standard he had set for himself in that 13 minute statement he read a month ago.  And yet, after the final round, he answered questions tersely, almost annoyed, and never addressed the bigger picture of his return.  He basically acted as if nothing ever happened - which is precisely how he will act from now on, I am sure of that.

I guess you have surmised by now that I don't buy Tiger's act.  I think he wished he never got caught by his wife and that he didn't ruin his carefully crafted image.  Still, I am sure that as long as he keeps the image of fidelity to his wife now (and continues winning), the sponsors will come back.  People are stupid.  They are easily wooed by  Tiger's talent.  We know this by the enthralled masses who passionately cheered Tiger on at Augusta for no apparent reason.  "Good job, you cheated on your wife with dozens of women including an adult actress!  Way to go!".  Ridiculous.

In time, Tiger's superior talent on the course will probably win back all that he had before.  In time, he will pass Nicklaus' record and ESPN will again deify him with only vague references to this past offseason.  All he has to do is win.  But I wish that he would dedicate that energy into loving his wife and raising his children, like Phil.  And I wish he would win with humility and respect, like Phil.

You know what I really wonder?  I wonder what ran through Elin's mind when she saw Phil and Amy's embrace.  I bet she'd give anything to trade places.

We started the week looking for a man who says he truly cares for his family.  On Sunday, we saw one who really does, fittingly, donning the green jacket.

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