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April 15, 2010 3:19 am

Mickelson's win at masters says much more than Woods' return

Written by Tribune Staff

Phil Mickelson's victory at last week's 2010 Masters Golf Tournament proved the nice guy doesn't always finish last.

The lead-up to the Masters drew attention from golf fans and non-fans alike, but it wasn't the game that piqued the interest of many.

Instead, it was Tiger Woods' return to tournament action that drew the unprecedented attention. Woods' personal saga has overshadowed the PGA Tour in the national media since last Thanksgiving, when stories of serial infidelity began to surface, and the family-man aura surrounding Woods began to unravel. Last week, fresh from treatment for sex addiction, Woods' was set to make his PGA comeback at the Masters.

It didn't turn out quite the way Woods hoped: At the conclusion of the tournament, he found himself in fourth place — with his wife, Elin, and their children noticeably absent.

Instead, longtime rival Phil “Lefty” Mickelson captured first place, earning him the right to don the coveted green jacket. Mickelson celebrated his victory with his wife and mother — both of whom are suffering from cancer — and his children.

The teary embrace between Mickelson and his wife, Amy, on the 18th green summed up what many — golf fans and others — were already thinking: The right guy won.

The symbolism of an emotional Mickelson, soaking up a win surrounded by loved ones — while Woods exited, alone and defeated — was poignant.

In the days since, the media's shift in attention from the philandering Woods to the real family guy, Phil Mickelson, has been a refreshing reminder that sometimes things like integrity, kindness and honesty still can win out in the end.