Like many fans I initially tuned in to see if Tiger Woods still had his game. I was ambivalent about wanting him to win (a just universe requires a penalty to be paid, n'est-ce pas?), but I did expect to view the customary compensatory gestures by this behavior-challenged celebrity: remorse, humility, and, above all, the self-control that showed that he is sensitive to his effect on those around him.
Despite a visible effort Tiger could not conceal his frustration and anger at his golfing miscues, and he has always been an ungracious, if not sore loser. He has unmatched skills, but his act is wearing thin. Tiger’s the bad guy now. If he doesn’t change, at the end of his career the public may acknowledge him only grudgingly to be the greatest ever. He’ll be the Barry Bonds of golf.
Phil Mickelson’s triumph on one of sports’ greatest stages had moments that reality television can only dream of. Phil could have played a safe shot from under the trees on the 13th hole par-5, but he refused to protect his two-shot lead and risked a water landing by going for the green. The ball landed a few feet from the hole, “the shot of his life,” according to Nick Faldo, three-time Masters champion. The birdie just about sealed his win.
But what catapulted Phil Mickelson’s victory to greatness was the background against which it was achieved: his wife’s year-long battle against breast cancer. Amy Mickelson’s trips to Houston for treatment, the strain it placed upon the family and their three young children, and the subsequent discovery that Phil’s mother also had breast cancer would make it difficult for any normal person to function normally, much less achieve a ranking of second-best golfer in the world at the end of 2009.
The 2010 Masters was about growing old, marriage, life, and love. It was one for the ages. © 2010 Stephen Yuen
The shot of the day, by CBS.