Congratulations are in order to Phil Mickelson. He’s always been one of my favorites, and he indeed played one hell of a game on Sunday. The real drama unfolded for me with a different story.
I must admit that I am a far bigger football fan, (49er season ticket holder for 23 years before Dr. York sank the team) than a watcher of golfers. I admit in advance that this observation, therefore, is probably anything but objective. The only reason there would ever be for my attending a golf match is to rub elbows with the famous golfers and the celebrities. Saturday is better for Pebble Beach as many of the celebs don’t make the cut, and aren’t around on Sunday. Sunday is better for the pure golf enthusiast who wants to follow the leader’s gallery and peer over heads sometimes twenty deep to catch a glimpse of a little white ball hopefully sinking into the round abyss cut at the front of the green.
Last Saturday was just such an opportunity. Having looked up the pairings I calculated just when we would need to be at which hole to park our chairs and see my favorites. We wanted to be sure to catch up with Bill Murray, and he didn’t disappoint. His show on the third green was audacious, inappropriate, and thoroughly satisfying. We saw the flurry; Ray Romano. George Lopez, Harris Barton, Huey Lewis, Aaron Rogers, Bill Bilichick, Matt Cain, etc. Cameras weren’t allowed, but cell phones were, and it was a general understanding that we kept them down when the Marshalls were nearby, and tried to be discreet. One of the security guys actually told me I should keep the thing in my pocket until he left, which was about 30 seconds. This went on for about 7 groups, and I got some FaceBook quality photos just so I could show my kids that I was there. They still get some excitement out of daddy standing three feet from Phil Mickelson, and that kind of stuff.
Then it was time for Tiger and Tony Romo. The send ahead security detail was about ten times what it had been for any of the other golfers, including the guys who were actually on the leader board. Instead of 2 or 3 Marshalls on the green, there were 30. Along with the TV cameras, came the militia announcing that there would be NO taking of pictures, not just while they were playing, but NO photos period. Apparently Tiger is afraid that someone might steal his soul, oh I forgot, too late for that. People all around were wishing him well, shouting “good luck; we love you Tiger,” etc… Ah the selective memory. I wish him well, myself, but there just doesn’t seem to be much love coming back from him. He totally ignored everyone, which is understandable I guess, but the Gestapo atmosphere was a bit oppressive. It was tighter than when George W. Bush visited us at CityTeam a few years back. We had our chairs right on the ropes at the edge of the green, but there were so many security people we barely got a glimpse of the golfers. The general mood was certainly not the “humble Tiger” we had been hearing about on the radio lately. Guess his Karma spoke for itself on the back 9 on Sunday where he bogied 4 in a row.
In stark contrast was coach Harbaugh. When we walked in that morning, we had the good fortune of catching him at the putting green just before the first tee. After his warm-up he stood signing autographs for a good 15 minutes. When the fans were saying things like “thank you coach” or “”great season” all Harbaugh could do was thank them back, and say how blessed he was to have such a great team and such amazing fans. Usually one to grab an opportunity for a quick sports related autograph, his generosity and openness left me speechless. It was such an awesome feeling and display of human kindness, all I could do was watch. It wouldn’t have been right for me to take any of his time away from the kids and little old ladies he was literally ministering to. It was not a religious thing, but it really reminded me of the stories of Jesus and ‘suffer the little children unto me.”
Observing a truly great man, who is that humble, is inspiring. After 15 years as a very successful pro quarterback, turning around USD and Stanford, and just winning the NFL “Coach of the Year” award, this is the man that had time for his people.
Tiger might take a page on public relations from Coach. It would seem that he might need some friends on his way back down.