by Jeff Skinner
The day at The Masters got off to an early start with the traditional first tee shots hit by the icons of the game. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were joined by Gary Player to once again tee it up at their home away from home, Augusta National. This ceremony that not only honors the three greatest living golfers it pays homage to the traditions of the game like no other scene in golf.
Year after year we watch as Augusta National honors not only the ceremonial starters but the history and traditions of the game. The patrons that swarm the first tee are given the thrill of a lifetime as the living Mount Rushmore of golf starts the day’s proceedings.
Along with all the fans and club members standing there in the early chill was Phil Mickelson. Phil got up early and donned his green jacket and was present on the tee as Arnie, Jack and Gary took their single swipes off the first tee. Mickelson smiled and shook hands as the Big Three started the day.
Like Phil, we all have seen the video of this year after year on television but Phil wanted to see it in person. So instead of sleeping late, having a noon time warm-up session and strolling to the tee in the afternoon he joined the thousands of starry eyed fans on the first tee to be part of one of the most poignant traditions in the game.
He adjusted his schedule to practice early, have a meal and then head home to take a nap before his tee time so he could honor The Big Three. And for that moment that he stood there on the first tee he wasn’t Phil Mickelson the golfer, the Masters Champion or the Hall of Famer. He was Phil Mickelson the fan. A fan of golf, a fan of the game, a fan of The Big Three, a fan of tradition and a fan of the history of the game.
For Phil it was just something he said he always wanted to do. But for me it’s just another thing that makes him the most likable golfer in the world.