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PGA Golf

Tiger Woods Is Not A Heartless Robot

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In a display of sportsmanship, class and empathy, Tiger Woods opened up about his supposed nemesis Phil Mickelson and what Phil and his family are going through as Amy Mickelson battles breast cancer.

“I couldn’t imagine dealing with what he has to deal with on a daily basis. And hats off to how he’s handled it because certainly it’s so hard to do.”

Tiger’s father Earl battled prostate cancer for eight years before finally succumbing to the illness and passing away in 2006, so I am sure Tiger understands first-hand what Phil is experiencing on a daily basis. Woods also understands that while everyone on and associated with the tour offers their support and best wishes, sometimes that makes it only harder to focus.

“You’re surrounded by people wishing you well the entire time and hoping everything works out. But then again, they keep reminding you of the same circumstance you’re dealing with on a daily basis.”

Perhaps the most surprising revelation from what Tiger said is how off the course, the Mickelsons and the Woods spend time together socially, especially when you consider how the relationship between Tiger and Phil is so often depicted in the media.

“All the years that we’ve played doubles and table tennis, Elin and myself and Phil and Amy, those are priceless times.

Personally, at first I was shocked to read that, but maybe the truth is that any animosity that exists between Tiger and Phil is the result of two fierce competitors and their burning desire to win at all costs, and not some mutual personal vendetta each one has for the other.

It’s refreshing to see that sometimes, rivalries that exist in sports are left on the field, the ice or the course and when the competition is over, people remain friends. It reminds me of how Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas completely admired and respected each other and were actually close friends off the court – but when it came time to compete, they wanted to beat the snot out of each other. And once the game was over, it was finished – maybe something that could be laughed about at a later time.

Hopefully, that will be the case for Tiger and Phil for years to come. As we learned at The Masters this spring, there is nothing more entertaining and engrossing than watching these guys match shot for shot and duke it out on the course.

Of course, best wishes to Phil, Amy and their family. Let’s all hope she makes it through this difficult period and comes back healthier than ever.

Woods offers support to Mickelson [BBC Sport]