Golf, along with baseball is one of life's greatest teaching tools wrapped up in a game. That is it's real beauty.
Famous golfers are forever joined in history as they cross paths during their run throughout the PGA Tour. Most famous certainly, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. They are linked for all time as one. They dominated their era together, much like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Or should we now say, Phil and Tiger? Yes. And I think more and more people are liking it that way. It used to be the other way around. And now that reversal has nothing to really do with golf. Watching Phil win the British Open today, you could not help but notice that his joy came from someplace much deeper than golf. He simply understood the moment completely.
Tiger Woods was blessed with the greatest set of golf skills ever crammed into one man. A prodigy. Mastering the worlds most difficult game at an early age. Having been graced naturally with the tools it takes to be immortal. Skills and abilities that most of us spend a lifetime trying to develop, and never do. But we try to chase it down. Then he joined the tour, and dominated it as no one ever has or will. He became the first player most of us saw that appeared to have no limits. And Phil watched in awe. Probably too much in awe.
Phil Mickelson was given the love of golf and became a great player. But he was his own worst enemy for much of his early career. Taking ridiculous chances on the course, giving away tournaments and wondering if he would ever reach Tiger's level. But life asked him to grow up off the course. In turn, he learned the game better by learning about life better. Finally realizing that golf and life are great mimics of each other. As his life progressed and he has matured, so has his game, and his appreciation and love of it.....and the same of his life. Understanding that golf is what he does and not what he is. I don't think Tiger watched any of it.
I am not saying that Phil is a better player than Tiger. I am saying that Phil is more prepared for what lies ahead of him on and off the course. Phil embraces the game, his ups, his downs, his fans and the moment. Tiger embraces only his own singular temporary personal successes, and loses his joy of the game when things are not going well. He has been through a ton in his personal life and not all of it fair. Injuries are unfortunate, but unavoidable. I personally don't care what he has ever done off the course. We are all fallible. But sadly, with all that has been given to him, taken away, and come back again, he seems far behind Phil on what he has learned.
Tiger is seemingly enjoying golf little these days, and Phil has never enjoyed it more. Tiger may find that if he can find the joy of the game again, he may find his game. But that would require finding peace in life, ALA Phil. Which most of the time requires counting your blessings and embracing what you are, and what you are not. Being grateful for the chance to be, and do, what everyone else cannot.
For Phil, the greatest days of his professional and personal life are ahead of him, I have no doubt. Phil is holding a clinic on life and we are all invited to watch.
Much can be learned by watching now...Phil...and Tiger.