The left-handed natives were getting pretty fretted. Remember Pinehurst, when he had to stand to the side while Payne Stewart putted him out of the Open? He came close in the PGA, never within a whisper in the British Open, but he was constantly sniffing around a green jacket at the Masters.
Sunday, he finally got his arms through the sleeves of one, valeted by that other left-hander, Mike Weir, the trailblazer. Mission accomplished!
If he had to pick the one he wanted most, this was it. The Masters. Something hallowed in his mind. Usually, when he comes into one like this, with the prize dangling in front of his eyes, he finds a way to throw it back. Not this time. He began winning this one Saturday, playing one of the steadiest, headiest rounds of his life. Free of bogeys.
He didn't carry the streak on into Sunday, flags flying, crying challenge. He began the day with three strokes on Ernie Els, who knows how to win Opens, two U.S. and one British. Els picked up six strokes on the par 5s, and when he rolled in an eagle putt on the 13th green, you might have thrown in the towel.
But not the New Phil. The one who has learned when to charge and when to go with the flow. The scoreboard was a scramble, players flying up and down, charging and crashing, but Ernie and Phil were never far apart. And so Phil stood on the 18th green, looking at about a 18-foot putt downhill to put it away. (Els, meanwhile, was rolling putts on the practice green, keeping warm but staying cool.)
The rolling ball looked wide left, but somehow caught the lip and fell in the cup, and the exuberant image of the Phil Mickelson we have all known and loved — most of the time — flashed across the world.
“This is my day,” he had told himself, and it was. And it was ours too. There he was, mugging his wife and kids, trying to kiss one with a pacifier in her mouth. It was a scene from The American Family having a Sunday outing at the golf course.
We forgive him for all the disappointments. All these years we’ve had to wait, and now we have not just one left-hander in a green jacket, but two. Is a third in the works?
By the way, I wonder if Hugh Grant is left-handed.