’s victory at the repudiated the hype over ’s return after his scandal-induced absence from golf.
Woods had cheated on his wife; Mickelson won for his wife, Amy, who has breast cancer and was in the gallery for the first time this season to watch her husband. Moments after a CBS camera spotted Amy Mickelson beyond the ropes of the 18th green, her husband birdied the 18th hole to win, and his joy turned to tears.
CBS’s Jim Nantz echoed his “There it is, a win for the ages” declaration for Woods at the 1997 Masters when he said of Mickelson, “That’s a win for the family.”
It sounded scripted yet sounded right. Earlier, David Feherty, the on-course reporter, ad-libbed an even better comment when he noted that the pink ribbon Mickelson wore on his cap was “for his beautiful wife, Amy, and his beautiful mom,” who also received a diagnosis of breast cancer last year.
CBS always has a challenge balancing its coverage of Mickelson and Woods when they are both in contention. Mickelson appeals to a network’s heart, Woods to its brains. (Lee Westwood, the 54-hole leader, and K. J. Choi are less-appealing personalities because they are not as accomplished or as colorful.)
Before their tee times Sunday, Woods and Mickelson were shown side by side at the practice range; similar treatment was not given to Westwood, who entered the day with a one-stroke lead.
This year, the temptation was to focus heavily on Woods. After he confessed to infidelities and became a national joke, his return from rehabilitation was the big story of the tournament. Witness how devoted enormous resources and promotional time to showing Woods tee off live at 1:42 p.m. on Thursday.
But on Sunday, Woods alternately struggled and charged, finishing at 11 under par.
During Woods’s early run of three bogeys in five holes, Feherty sounded too much like a fan. “It’s only the fourth hole,” he said. “No one can fix himself on the golf course like him.” Soon after, he added: “He has 14 holes left. He’s six behind.”
Perhaps the passion Feherty felt for Woods overwhelmed the reality that coming back to play after a self-imposed five-month sabbatical is not a simple task.
Peter Kostis, CBS’s most straightforward voice, said it well as Woods putted for a birdie after a terrible tee shot on the 13th. “Very quick with his arms going back, even quicker with his body going forward,” he said. “He has no tempo, no rhythm right now.” After Woods made the putt, Kostis added, “But he finds the tempo with the putter.”
On the 14th, when Woods seemed about to get a birdie, he bogeyed.
“Goodness,” Bill Macatee said. “Almost a disaster at 14.”
By then, CBS had pretty much given up on him.
The network showed nearly all the rest of his shots on tape, even his eagle at No. 15.
CBS’s crew questioned several of Mickelson’s shots, especially when he seemed to break free of the reins that , CBS’s lead analyst, says he needs, to temper his sometimes reckless side. After Mickelson’s incredible recovery shot on the 13th hole, Faldo called it the “greatest shot of his life.”
Kostis added, “He kept his balance and kept his feet beneath him.”
Yet moments later, Kostis and Faldo sounded almost aggrieved when Mickelson missed his eagle putt.
“No way!” Faldo said.
“He knows he let one get away that can be costly down the stretch,” Kostis added.
When Mickelson settled for a birdie on the 15th, Feherty was still not a believer.
“You can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,” he said, “as Phil well knows.”
When all doubt was gone and Mickelson had won his newest green jacket, Nantz offered a more genuine thought than his initial declaration.
“We’ve seen dedicated efforts before,” he said. “This will rank up among the best you’ll ever see.”
On another subject, Nantz evidently wanted to portray himself as a Woods critic.
On Saturday, he said he was disappointed in Woods’s frustrated outbursts, although most would not call his words very profane. On Sunday, Nantz came off as a scold when he called the language “foul.” Even some of Nantz’s colleagues said Sunday that Woods seemed less himself when he was not exhibiting his emotional side.