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Mickelson's mastery is most rewarding

By Doug Gorman

I must admit I'm not one to sit around watching professional golf on weekends.

There just seems to be a much better ways to spend a day off.

However, my viewing habits tend to change when one of the PGA's four majors is being played, especially Masters week as the world's best golfers via for the green jacket.

Golf is not one of those sports where I cheer for one participant over the other. Admiration is a better way to describe my attitude toward professional golfers.

It's amazing how the men on the PGA tour make swinging a golf club look so easy.

Tiger Woods has done more for the game in the last 10 or so years then anybody walking up a fairway. Tom Watson and Jack Nickalus did the same for the sport a generation or two earlier.

Of course, young and old love Arnold Palmer. Palmer completed his 50th and final Masters last weekend with the same grace and dignity he has displayed throughout his long and prestigous career.

But it was Phil Mickelson who stole the spotlight last week on golf's biggest stage as he finally did something some thought he could never do ? win one of the sports majors.

I sat mesmerized last Sunday as Mickelson came from behind with a great performance on the back nine of the Augusta National course. If Hollywood wanted to make an exciting golf movie, Mickelson wrote the script for them.

When he sank the 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the event by one stroke I wanted to jump high in the air with him.

This was the feel good story of the weekend. No longer would Mickelson have to deal with the label of the best golfer never to win a major.

No longer would he have to answer sports reporters probing questions as to why he choked again.

Sports fans could celebrate with him as he shared the moment with his family.

I have never covered a professional men's golf tournament, but it's easy to cheer for Mickelson. The man has his priorities in the right place.

Golf is important to the talented lefty, but it sits way below his family in order of importance.

Because of that balance, Mickelson has always managed to play winning golf. I always found it funny that critics were writing him off as if he was running out of time, instead of in the prime of his career.

Mickelson certainly seemed to enjoy his stroll around golf's most picturesque course on Sunday.

Even when he was trying to chase down Ernie Els, the smile never left his face.

It was almost as if he was content just to be out there, win or lose.

It might have been that relaxed attitude which carried him through the final pressured-filled holes of the tournament.

But something tells me his best golf is still in front of him, and with the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship yet to be played this year, I wouldn't be surprised if he adds a second major to his trophy case before the season ends. Hey could he actually win all three and capture golf's grand slam?

I guess that's a little much to ask for, but it will be fun to watch him try.

(Doug Gorman is sports editor of the Daily. His column appears on Fridays. He can be e-mailed at dgorman@news-daily.com)