THE BLOG
06/12/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Mickelson's Wife Made Him a Better Golfer

People might think that viewing Phil Mickelson's wife's battle with cancer as a stimulus to his outstanding golf performance trivializes her suffering and their love.

I don't. Mickelson's heartwarming welcome from his wife at the 18th hole at Augusta, following his three-stroke victory in the Masters, was a tear-jerker for the huggers and audience alike.

For many, the message was, "there are more important things than golf." Although I agree with that sentiment, that wasn't the theme of this particular hug. This could be termed the "I won this out of love for you and because your strength and commitment make me a better human being" hug.

You see, Mickelson, although one of the top golfers in the world (he had won the premier Masters golf tournament twice previously), is known for flaming out in matches in which he was leading, blowing easy putts and surrendering seemingly insurmountable leads.

This time, Mickelson's play over the final holes of the course was his best performance of the tournament -- he actually birdied the 18th, despite having a safe lead that he would have maintained even if he bogeyed the hole.

If a marriage succeeds -- and love works -- people are made better by the relationship and experience. They improve their dealings with others and the world -- as opposed to either getting lost in an intense romance, or being dutifully committed to a routine marriage -- and face the world more bravely, fruitfully, and energetically.

And, so, Mickelson played among his best golf ever, at a time when his wife -- and he along with her -- is suffering. But she - and his love for her - nonetheless made him a better golfer. It may only be golf, but that's what love does.