Master Mickelson: Always adorable, no longer harmless | VailDaily.com
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Master Mickelson: Always adorable, no longer harmless

Andrew Harley
Phil Mickelson gives the thumbs after receiving his Masters championship green jacket and trophy following his nine-under-par victory at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., Sunday, April 11, 2004. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
AP | AP

Phil Mickelson is one of the easiest guys to root for on the PGA tour. He has so many things going for him; those puppy-dog eyes, that sensitive short game, a beautiful family and he’s left-handed.

Mickelson always wears his emotions on the baggy sleeves of his Ford golf shirt – hopefully, his newly-acquired greensleeves will not harden his heart of gold – and his natural dramatics on the golf course – in front of millions of television viewers – don’t come across like some of the other players. For instance, Phil’s nemesis: Tiger Woods.

When Tiger misses a putt he thinks he should have made, he whines, he pouts, he sometimes shouts things a role model shouldn’t. Tiger Woods is a big fat baby. He seems to get a lot of dirt and sand and whatever in his eyes on the course. It’s okay to cry Tiger, everyone faces tragedy.

Phil, on the other hand, does not come across as a spoiled brat. He’s too apologetic. Phil’s that kid in gym class who moped in the corner for three weeks after he missed the game-winning shot. He was the kid who felt like he let his teammates down, not the kid who was sad because he didn’t get the glory.

Despite the fact that golf is primarily a sport of individual achievement, Mickelson somehow manages to make us believe that he’s not just out there for himself; he’s out there for his wife and kids and anyone who arrived at their dreams and somehow lost. He plays out of love, and we’re all on his team.

So this is not a persona that he necessarily entered the PGA with. In the beginning, he was younger, slimmer, perhaps a bit less pathetic. He was Little Luke Skywalker with a laser tee shot and a promising putter who could hit a flop shot backwards. But Phil’s quest from jedi knighthood to the 2004 Masters was long and embarrassing.

It’s taken Phil 43 majors, and, as the number grew, so did the insults. Our friend Phil was dubbed, “The best player to never win a major,” he’s lost a lot of money for gamblers and, with the pressure, his chest grew.

Phil has entered so many final days of major championships with a convincing shot at winning, only to have his dreams crushed, so this was great. Way to go, team.

Andrew Harley can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext.610, or at aharley@vaildaily.com.


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