July 22, 2013
It’s great when a winner wins.
Instant information – and international coverage – have made the news business predictable: find the greatest overnight disaster, and lead with that headline in the morning. Train station bombings, mob violence in a historic square, tornados with a path of destruction, a politician caught in a tawdry scandal: the race to get heartbreak above-the-fold is the nature of the news in the 21st Century.
Until this morning. “Forever Second” might as well be his motto, but yesterday, Phil Mickelson raised the trophy toward the sky – to the delight of the photographers – as he claimed the prize for the British Open, played out at Muirfield, “Home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.”
In case you’ve been in a coma, or on a wilderness trek for an upcoming reality program, let me give you the tweet-length news: Phil started the day Sunday 2-over-par – and five shots behind the leader, Phil Westwood. He birdied four of the last six holes, and finished the day with a 66. It was his fifth major title. The guy who missed his last three haircut appointments – with the goofy grin – won the prize.
It was just five weeks ago when Phil’s family got in the way of his golf.
His daughter, Amanda, was set to speak at her graduation in San Diego late in the afternoon on Wednesday, June 12th. Phil was slotted to tee-off for the first round of the US Open at Merion Golf Club in Haverford Township, just outside Philadelphia at 7:11 the next morning. He was at Merion on Monday to prep for the tournament, got rained out… and flew home Tuesday to be in the gallery for Amanda’s commencement speech. College graduation? Nope; it was middle school, 8th grade…
Back on the plane at 6:00p; landed in Philly at 3:30a; an hour’s sleep, then off to Merion. His first round was a 67, proof that pro golf is best played by pros, with or without rest. Going into the final round on Sunday, June 16th, Phil had the lead… and ended the day tied for second. What if he had missed the ceremony on Wednesday, and started the weekend rested?
No one was talking about shoulda / woulda / coulda yesterday. The man-without-scandals pulled it off, and the insiders are calling it one of the great final rounds of golf history.
In an era when “scoops” in journalism are more likely to involve a confirmed report that will reveal a dark secret that ends a career and destroys an image, it’s great to be reminded that goodness still draws applause. The ever-present microphones caught the chatter while the big names were playing their final round. Tiger Woods was chiding himself with unprintable expletives, while Phil’s response to a bad roll on a shot caused him to say, “Wow, that’s as good as I got.”
Congrats, Mr. Mickelson. Your wife and three kids are proud of you. So am I…
Phil’s golf is a matter of public record; his position regarding personal faith is a mystery. He frequents no church; he has made no declaration of dedication. He plays for KPMG, Barclays Bank and Callaway – the sponsors whose logos he sports on his visor and his shirt – but he has no apparent conviction regarding his religion. I hope he’s a follower of Jesus, or will be…
The point: goody-two-shoes is still a great caption to put under a victory pose. It results in applause… and a heightened respect for the Champion, and his/her sponsors.
Play to win, but when you get the trophy, be reminded that you’re wearing the logo of heaven. “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). People are watching… and they want the good guys to win. Make your sponsor – The One Who paid dearly to be your Patron – proud, as you play your life to win.