Tiger Vs. Phil: The Real Champ Emerges

I’ve thought way too much about Tiger over the past few months. Happily, this past weekend’s Masters Tournament has put my mind to rest. So long, Tiger, I’m on to more constructive matters.

Golf to me, as to many, has always been a metaphor for life. There are so many layers of the game, so many things to master, so much out of your control. Most importantly, once you’ve attained a certain level of physical and mechanical proficiency, you realize that 90% or more of the game is played in your head.

For Tiger to come out and play the way he did – finish in a tie for fourth in the first major tournament of the year after going through his (self-inflicted) ordeal – that’s just amazing. A true testament to the man’s athletic skills and mental toughness.

So how did Tiger react? In a post-tournament interview with Peter Kostis of CBS, Tiger snarled, whined and felt sorry for himself. Outright nasty. (Watch it here.)

Another golfer entered the Masters tournament with a few problems of his own last week. Phil Mikelson’s wife and mother are both battling cancer. Mikelson drastically changed his practice and tournament schedule over the past year, as he should have, to take care of his wife Amy.

Amy, whose prognosis is good, was too weak to attend the tournament and stayed in bed for most of it. When it became clear that husband Phil’s lead was going to stand over the final holes, she was able to make it to the 18th green on that last day to celebrate with her husband. Phil had worn a pink ribbon under the brim of his hat throughout the tournament to show his solidarity.

If these “distractions” weren’t enough, their young daughter fractured her wrist while skateboarding the night before the final round. Phil was in the emergency room with her at 10:00 that night.

The scene of the 72nd hole was touching. Hugging his wife, smiling, grateful, humble and highly emotional, Mikelson was a great champion. And out-classed Tiger by a more than a long par 5.

If there were any question, any question at all that advertisers considering a post-scandal Tiger Woods as spokesperson, they were answered at the Masters tournament this weekend. His apologies have been scripted and insincere. Allowing himself to be featured in a Nike commercial with his dead father’s voice, asking him from the grave how he feels about himself and how he’s going to move forward in life, is disgraceful.

The Kostis interview was the last straw for me, and advertisers should take note. No grace, no class whatsoever. He couldn’t mutter a word of congratulations or empathy for one of his greatest contemporaries. How hard could it have been to say, “Congratulations to me friend Phil who played a great tournament, and best wishes for Amy and his mom.”

No, it’s all about Tiger, and if it’s all about Tiger, it’s never going to be all about your brand.

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