by Jeff Skinner
For years Phil Mickelson played in the shadow of Tiger Woods. Tiger won more majors, more tournaments, got bigger endorsements checks and everyone from the PGA Tour to the media to the fans generally kissed his butt. Phil Mickelson was the “Anti-Tiger.” Tiger frowned, Phil smiled. Tiger strode around the course like he owned it. Phil moseyed round the course like it’s his first time there. Tiger won majors by the truckload. Phil took his time, twelve years, before he landed his first.
They are two different men forever linked together by their chosen professions. But they couldn’t be more different. The fire hydrant that brought Tiger down certainly showed that the two are very different, at least what we all can see about them. Devil Ball Golf features this past week’s cover story on Phil in Parade Magazine. It portrays Phil as the ultimate family man and there really isn’t much evidence to show otherwise.
I have followed them both around the course and one of the main differences I see is that Phil is able to let go of the poor shots much quicker that Tiger. Tiger will let a poor shot stay with him. Phil lets it pass quickly. Phil has more fun on the course than Tiger and that was true long before Tiger-Gate. Maybe it’s that Phil is a bit more content with his life and while he feels the need to play world class golf and pocket a few more majors, it isn’t the end of the world when he falls short.
With all Phil and his wife have dealt with in the past year he knows what’s important. But it didn’t take cancer or a career threatening illness to give Phil that perspective. He knew of it long before that. From the Parade story:
Golf can be a cruel game, but Mickelson has proven his resilience. Case in point: the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, when he stood on the final tee with a one-shot lead and proceeded to unleash a series of cringeworthy shots that resulted in a double bogey and cost him the tournament. Sheer agony, but here’s Mickelson’s story of what happened after: “My daughter Amanda and I [found a quiet] corner to snuggle, and she said, ‘Are you okay, Dad?’ and I said, ‘Well, I’m a little disappointed. This was a tournament I dreamt of winning as a kid, and I haven’t yet.’ And she said, ‘Well, second is pretty good, Dad. Can I get you a piece of pizza?’
“It was kind of a bigger-picture perspective,” he says.
Phil gets the big picture. He’ll bust his chops to do all he can to win at Augusta and Congressional and anywhere else but if he falls short that’s all right. He always has that family to go home to. And that’s all that really matters.