Is there a more humbling game than golf? Seriously. If so, what is it?
Today we witnessed the magnificence of one of the truly "good guys" in golf and in sports--Phil Mickelson won his fifth major championship and his first British Open championship, closing with a 66 to pull away and win by three strokes.
Yet it was this same Mickelson who self-proclaimed himself a "dope" for his colossal collapse at the 2006 U.S. Open when, up by one stroke on the 18th hole, he hit driver and what had to be the worst shot of his professional career. How bad was the shot? Let's just say that there were fans in hospitality tents who had a better lie and line than Mickelson did for his second shot.
Fast forward to this summer's U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club where, once again, Mickelson collapsed in grand style, causing many media members to very publicly question the golfer's ability to win another major and, more caustically, question if he had what was between the ears for our nation's championship much less "The Open," which has been around for 142 years.
The beauty of Mickelson is that he was humbled and has come back. Yet, for every Mickelson (and there are few), there is a Greg Norman, a Jean van de Velde, or an Ian Baker-Finch who has very publicly struggled to win a major, infamously blown a lead, or faded into obscurity because of the dreaded yips.
Yes, golf is the most humbling of games given the individuality of the sport and the fact that every round and every shot is different--none occur at the same place on the same course over the course of a career.
Today's British Open is ultra-fulfilling because a golfer who had been humbled has shown he still has what it takes to be defined as one of the game's greats. As for Norman, van de Velde, Baker-Finch and the others, their names are there with the countless golfers who few remember...those who have been humbled.