Even with Tiger’s 2019 Masters win, Lefty solidified what the world needed – a professional athlete like Phil Mickelson
In a gallery that carried the characteristics of Woodstock, thousands of golf fans bombarded the 18th fairway, screaming, high-fiving, trying to get close to the future Hall-of-Fame golfer. The only thing missing was the 60’s concert atmosphere of weed in the air and fans on acid. Or well, we think that was missing.
As Phil Mickelson made his way to the final green, they were all there in adoration for the old rockstar of professional golf as he set out to make history.
The oldest player to win a major championship in the history of professional golf.
The 50-year-old was not quite old enough to be around for a year for the famous hippy-fest known as Woodstock, but it was obvious who the gallery was there to see.
After his exceptional first three rounds, it was almost like the four-day gallery collectively banded together on Sunday to cheer on the nicest guy on the tour. With 200-1 odds that ‘Lefty’ would win the 103rd PGA championship in South Carolina at the Kauai Island golf resort, this was more than watching great golf.
Tom Brady came very close to something similar in front of 30% capacity, winning his seventh championship. But it wasn’t like Phil’s win.
This tournament meant something. Not only to Phil but the sports world:
Phil’s win is what the sports world needed
Coming off a global pandemic, the first real professional golf gallery in over a year, and facing the world’s youngest professional golfers that are driving the ball near 400 yards, Mickelson did what he did best – Draw a crowd, give his hundreds of thumbs-up acknowledging the fans and then win.
There is not one player on the PGA tour that is adored like Phil. As for the last three decades, we watched his rivalry blossom with the greatest golfer the world has ever seen in Tiger Woods.
That rivalry meant more than just Tiger’s putting versus Phil’s short game. More than the Jordan-esque approach to the game by Tiger versus the fan-favorite, nice guy Mickelson.
But what made that rivalry even bigger was not on the fairway and the greens. It was life that created that rivalry.
In 2009, Tiger’s ‘other’ life became visible to the planet. After his car accident and public ‘spill’ with his then-wife Elen Nordegren, the world saw the transgressions of Tiger Woods. Lies and the exotic adult playground surfaced, and the wholesome Tiger Woods was now just another touchable athlete – a Million-dollar athlete in an ugly multi-million divorce and some sponsors running fast and far from him.
And while Tiger’s adultery mess was going on, his number one adversary was winning the Masters.
April 11th, 2010 made the Phil who we know today. Kissing his wife of then 14-years, holding his kids in front of the entire world. A family man, husband, and father, was putting on his second green Masters’ jacket in front of half the world while the other half was judging Tiger. Phil was already immensely popular, but Tiger’s mishaps made him the most well-liked player, arguably, in the history of golf.
Phil didn’t take advantage of Woods issues. He let life play that out. His entire career, Mickelson has consistently left the clubhouse with a feeling of not only fun with his practical jokes, but more about his positivity and love for the game.
26-year-old fellow pro, John Rahm, summed up everything about the game of golf and ultimately Phil after the demise of his round.
The Spaniard voiced his displeasure after his 40th place finishes, “I don’t know and I don’t care. I don’t really want to be here right now.” However, something or someone made him stay.
“Phil’s enthusiasm is what keeps him going; at his age,” said Rahm. ‘For him to keep the willingness to play and compete and practice, even when he hasn’t been working (playing well), it’s truly admirable. I hope he gets the win and puts that stamp in history.”
That’s why we saw what we did in the 103rd PGA Championship. The gallery overtaking the final hole’s fairway, surrounding Phil Mickelson, security, and police pushing their way thru the crowd so Phil can finish his winning round.
What we saw in this championship was Tiger-like from the early 2000s
In today’s world of cancel culture, Mickelson’s win left no doubt that there is no canceling of Lefty or the PGA. Sunday, May 23rd, 2021, a large mask-less gallery of near-rabid and exciting golf fans, reminded the world that an approachable professional athlete still carries the adoration of his fans, and at the same time, making new ones.
But Phil is not the only winner on this Sunday; professional sports was. Because of Phil Mickelson, this day was not canceled. It quite possibly started back up the good things about sports.
The most loved golfer on the planet may have kickstarted life again.