I learned something about myself as a golf fan this weekend.
When Tiger Woods was Tiger the most dominant golfer of all time, not Tiger the struggling headcase of today, I wasn't much of a Phil Mickelson fan. I loved watching Woods play the game at arguably the highest level it's ever been played. Mickelson was the closest thing Woods had to a rival, though in truth he wasn't anywhere near the golfer Woods was, and while I wanted things to be kept exciting, I didn't really ever want Woods to lose. Mickelson made that happen as often as anyone else could.
Mickelson has taken advantage of Woods' decline and is the best player on tour these days. Even more impressive, he kind of has the Woods aura about him. When Mickelson made his move Saturday, firing a 66 at The Masters and finishing the day a stroke behind Peter Hanson for the lead, it felt like Mickelson was on his way to winning. More striking to me was that I found myself rooting for him. I like greatness more than I like the individuals themselves, and Mickelson has been pretty great these last few years.
It wasn't meant to be — Mickelson fired a 72 Sunday and finished tied for third. But I wasn't too upset by the alternative. Bubba Watson is an easy guy to root for, especially for someone like me who is giddy at the thought of the green jacket being given a guy with a mullet named Bubba (and the ceremony most definitely did not disappoint). When that same guy can pull off shots like this on a stage like a playoff at The Masters, he certainly deserves his title.