I feel like I owe Phil Mickelson an apology. He's never been one of my favorite golfers, maybe because I, like so many fans, favored Tiger Woods.
Woods and Mickelson share a well-documented and heated rivalry, so for many years my loyalties, along with many others, rested with Tiger.
It seems like some of the best tournament moments to watch over the years, especially during the majors, have taken place when Tiger and Lefty were in a battle for the championship, trying to match one another shot for shot, through palpable dislike for each other. It made for interesting subtext to already exciting tournament action.
This year's Masters was another example of that rivalry, as Tiger returned to competitive golf.
However, the subtext this weekend went far beyond technical talent or even competitive rivalry. It became a kind of referendum on family values, and it was great to see the good guy finish first.
Tiger's antics have been splashed throughout the media for months, with the world's greatest golfer taking time off to go into rehab, an attempt to rehabilitate his marriage and his career.
On the other hand, Phil Mickelson ended one of golf's longestrunning streaks of majors last summer, pulling out of the British Open to be with his wife as she began treatment for breast cancer. His mother was also diagnosed with the disease around the same time. Back then, Mickelson said his family was his priority, the health of his wife more important than any championship. It's too bad that Tiger doesn't share that perspective.
While Mickelson has become a hero to those battling cancer over the last year, it's taken only a few months for Tiger to become a laughing stock. When news of his infidelities surfaced, many of his fellow golfers shunned him, while revealing stories of Tiger temper tantrums and other questionable conduct came to the forefront.
When Woods decided to return to golf at Augusta, the Masters must have gained millions of television viewers who wanted to see if Woods would sink or soar. The tournament was riveting, like a battle of good versus evil, right against wrong.
Tiger may be the only golfer on the planet who could return from such a long layoff to finish fourth in a major, and he reportedly was disappointed. Perhaps he hopes that winning will be the magic cure to all of his problems. However, it appears that the golf gods were not willing to let him pull out another storybook comeback, just so many fans are not willing to just forgive and forget.
Meanwhile, Lefty has won me over with his courage and his character, and I'm glad to see another green jacket to go Phil Mickelson.
It will go perfectly with his pink ribbon.
Kellie Goodman can be reached at Kellie@BedfordCountyChamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.