Congratulations sports fan — or person who happened to turn to the back page while waking up with a cup of coffee at Libe Café — you’ve just made history. What better time to talk a little golf and review the Masters than in the first-ever installment of Off The Wall?
Last weekend in Augusta, Ga., the storyline could be summed up in three words: Tiger vs. Phil. In a battle of all that is good and all that is evil in this world, rivaled only by Harry Potter vs. Lord Voldemort and Jacob vs. the Man in Black — all the other Lost fans out there know what I’m talking about — these two men grabbed all the headlines in a Masters for the ages.
The story of Tiger Woods has been well-chronicled for the past few months, and it’s now fair to say that the world’s No. 1 golfer has become somewhat of a social pariah after his numerous extramarital affairs landed him in hot water with just about every segment of our population.
On the other side of this train wreck stands the self-proclaimed good guy, Phil Mickelson, who always seems to have victory snatched from him at the last second — Winged Foot anyone? The fact that Phil was able to walk away from this tournament with his third career green jacket while his wife and mother battle breast cancer is both a testament to his ability to persevere and proof that good things actually do happen to good people.
Entering the tournament, Woods promised that he would devote himself to becoming a better role model and a better person. With this declaration came the promise of ending his club throwing and profanity-laced tantrums on the golf course. Did Tiger have to promise fans that he would reform his golf etiquette? No. But for a guy who just admitted to having over a dozen affairs in the past few years, it should have been obvious to him that this was a promise he needed to keep.
However, Woods’ fall from grace continued as he followed up poor shots with phrases like ‘Tiger you suck, god damn it’ and ‘Jesus Christ.’ Most Cornellians probably read these words and don’t take issue with them; however, in the golf community this type of behavior is frowned upon to begin with — not to mention how it’s viewed after all that Woods has been through.
CBS analyst Jim Nantz had it right in his reflection on Tiger’s failure to keep quiet on the golf course.
“If I said what he said on the air, I would be fired. Someone on my broadcast dismissed it as him having a camera in his face. Well, guess what? Phil Mickelson had a camera in his face all week and did you even hear him come close to approaching that?” Nantz said.
Woods’ latest indiscretions made it that much easier for all the Tiger haters in the world to dump on a man who was named the best athlete of the past decade.
Mickelson, on the other hand, has endured incredible pain as a result of the serious illnesses that his family has had to deal with for the better part of the last year. Despite all of the difficulties that Phil has had come his way over this time, he has still stayed true to the principles of golf and now has another Masters victory to show for his dedication to the sport.
Only a few months ago this was Tiger’s sport, and Phil was just the good guy who could never quite catch up with the ultra-talented World No. 1 golfer. Woods’ indiscretions have rendered him incapable of being the face of golf, and Mickelson has battled through all the adversity that has come his way to take that mantle from Tiger.