During Masters week, most commentary focused on Tiger Woods' return to golf after his adultery scandal. From his Monday press conference to his stellar play through the first three rounds, Woods was the subject of numerous columns lauding his comeback (the Wire chronicled the coverage here and here).
Then came Sunday, when Woods faltered while chief rival Phil Mickelson played a near-perfect round to capture his third Masters title. Mickelson has dealt with his own off-course tribulations this year, struggling to stay sharp while his wife and mother battle breast cancer. His win, followed by a heartwarming, tearful embrace with his wife, led the sports world to make an abrupt left turn and embrace Mickelson as the people's champion.
- The Ending We Needed Dubbing Mickelson's victory "a very necessary and uplifting moment," Fanhouse's Jay Mariotti emphatically declares his victory extends beyond the Green Jacket. "There have been any number of wonderful human triumphs in sports, but none have resonated more powerfully than Mickelson winning for Amy and his mother, Mary, who is said to be faring better." Mariotti then plants his flag firmly in the Mickelson camp: "Finally, we have some justice in the world. The right man won."
- This Is Beyond Golf ESPN's Rick Reilly, one of Woods' most ardent supporters, raced to lavish praise on Mickelson at his expense. "Mickelson, in case you forgot, is the guy who stayed true to his wife," he clucks. "He's the guy who's been missing tournaments the last 11 months while he flies her back and forth to a breast cancer specialist in Houston. He's the guy who didn't need reminding that women are not disposable." Reilly concludes by echoing Mariotti's satisfaction at the result:
Soon enough, though, Woods will win tournaments like this, pass Nicklaus, and order will be restored in the universe. But for this one Sunday in a flower-stuffed pocket of Georgia, the good husband, the good son, the good man actually got rewarded.
- Family Values Win the Day Deadspin's Dashiell Bennett gets right to the point: "In sports, everyone is a winner—some people just win better than others. Like Phil Mickelson, who won his third Masters without even having to cheat on his cancer-stricken wife. Days like this make a sportswriter's job real easy." Lobbing potshots at Woods for his continued shows of frustration on the course, Bennett contrasts the pair as starkly as possible. "[Woods] is the villain now and Phil, the former choke artist turned daring "gambler", is the good guy. And the good guy won. The morality play writes itself."