It was a story so perfect that nobody saw it coming.
Not to sound like I know anything about anything, but on Thursday I Tweeted that I thought Phil Mickelson would come out and win the Masters.
That’s not necessarily a stretch of a prediction by any means, but the setting for a Lefty victory was too perfect.
All the pressure was on Tiger Woods. All the media attention, all the hoopla and all the hysteria was surrounding the world’s greatest golfer, making his comeback several months and several tabloid covers older.
Everyone forgot about Phil. Everyone forgot that the man who has easily been the world’s No. 2 player for the past five years, the man who has come as close as anyone to being Woods’ rival, oh yeah… he’s playing in the Masters too.
Mickelson’s been known throughout his career as the guy who chokes under pressure. That’s why this weekend was so perfect for him. With all eyes on Tiger, Mickelson could work his way methodically through Augusta and dominate. It wasn’t until Tiger began to fade on Sunday that the attention shifted to Lefty.
His story is as compelling as any. And call me a blasphemer, but I’ll the “family man who’s battled through a year of seeing both his wife and mother diagnosed with breast cancer breaking through to win a major” story over the “embattled star who had sex with one floozie too many comes back after time off to win a major” story.
And that’s exactly what happened.
I’ve always been a Mickelson fan. I never knew a ton about golf growing up and I’m still not the biggest fan in the world, but I always watch the majors. And growing up, I needed a golfer to become a fan of. Tiger was too obvious, so I went with the lefty. Why? Because I’m left-handed, of course.
I remember seeing him lose the U.S. Open to Payne Stewart and being heartbroken for him. I remember seeing him lose tournament after tournament and gaining the “best player to never win a major” label he wore for so many years. And I remember seeing him finally break through at Augusta in 2004.
Much has been written about Mickelson’s “every man” persona, but it really cannot be overstated.
It’s fun to watch him play golf. You can see how much he enjoys high-fiving fans. How stoked he gets when he hits an awesome shot. There’s no fake-ness in his attitude. It’s all pure and that’s pretty darn cool.
So when Mickelson was walking up the 18th fairway toward the green Sunday afternoon, I thought two things. 1) I felt old because I realized he won his first green jacket in 2004 and I remember it was just last year. 2) I felt nostalgic. It’s not like if the White Sox won the World Series or if the Illini or Marquette win the National Championship. It’s different because I’m not a die-hard golf fan.
I was just genuinely happy for a guy who has been through so much and is the epitome of the anti-Tiger getting to win when you could see how much it meant to him.
Way to go, Lefty.