You wanted your incredible comeback story. A man who overcame trying times with the weight of the world on his shoulders, a man that many consider to be one of the best in the game that would overtake the field on Sunday with a flurry that would leave his competition in the dust. Congratulations, you got your story. No, not from Tiger Woods, it was Phil Mickelson who once again stole our hearts at The Masters en route to a stirring comeback victory.
For all of the hype and ballyhoo about Tiger’s return from his transgressions, let’s not forget what the man they call Lefty has been put through over the last 12 months. Two loved ones, a mother and a wife, both stricken with breast cancer less than two months apart. He suspended his tour play twice to aid the ailing women in his life and saw a U.S. Open title slip from his grasp with a poor showing on the last 6 holes in 2009. Already a fan favorite, Mickelson’s popularity grew even further as he put golf to the side to be with his wife Amy and mother Mary as golfers chipped in with pink-themed attire to show support for Mickelson.
Fast forward the clock to the current day and those problems of yesterday were left behind in his rear view mirror.
Mickelson, like most golfers, became a back story to the re-emergence of the Tiger Woods show. From the opening news conference on Monday, to that horrendously done Nike Ad on Wednesday the focus was on Tiger and solely him. The rest of the field was merely a side show with little respect from the media that maybe somebody other than Eldrick “Tiger” Woods had a shot to win this thing.
On Saturday however, Phil Mickelson began to overrun the return of Tiger with an electric back nine that saw him make up a five-shot deficit and for a brief moment take the lead. Turns out a Tiger was the least of Lee Westwood’s problems, Lefty was on the prowl.
Coming into Sunday just one stroke back, Mickelson seized every opportunity given to him. Westwood bogeyed three of his first eight holes losing a stroke to Mickelson as he saved par on his seven holes before a birdie on the 8th. The damage mostly done by Mickelson came on the back nine, where he made his charge on Saturday. He drove home a 15 foot birdie to give him the lead on the par-3 12th, then came through again on 13 with a gorgeous shot to set up another birdie and would never relinquish his advantage. He finished off things with an exclamation point of a birdie on 18 to capture his third Master title, which makes him only the eighth man in history with three or more Masters Championships trailing only Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger.
He also did it holding off a hard charging Anthony Kim who went into the clubhouse only two back of Lefty after a blistering 7 under 65 and sat only two shots off of the lead. He hoped for Lefty to fold, but it wasn’t the case.
As for Tiger, his Masters concluded in the same fashion of his personal life over the last 6 months, up and down. Coming in five shots off of the lead everyone in attendance could feel a Tiger comeback brewing, unfortunately Tiger bogeyed three of his first five holes in the final round on Sunday, and five overall and quickly fell out of contention though he finished up with an eagle and a birdie on two of his last four holes. Tiger viewed his Masters as a disappointment stating that, “I only enter events to win… I didn’t hit the ball good enough and made too many mistakes around the green. As a result, I’m not there.” After talk of a triumphant return, Tiger faded unnoticeably into the background.
As Phil Mickelson walked towards another green jacket on the 18th, his wife Amy stood in the background cheering him on. After a period of almost eleven months without her traveling with him, she was there to witness another one of his finest moments. “To win this tournament, it’s the most amazing feeling,” Mickelson said. “This has been a special day. I’ll look back on this day as very memorable, something I’ll always cherish.” After the year that he and his family have had, a family moment was something he could’ve used.
The same can be said for the rest of the fans of golf. There is no more talk about past transgressions, wrongdoings and scandal. Phil Mickelson has erased that from our memory banks with an impressive victory. After going through his own nightmare of a year he roared back to form and reclaimed his spot as one of the top golfers in the game. Now honestly, isn’t that all we wanted out of this weekend?