The beauty of Phil Mickelson's win Sunday at the Augusta National is not just that he was finally able to shed the title of best golfer never to win one of the four major golf championships.
After his victory, the elated Mickelson summed up what made the win so special: "I think the most difficult part of this 10-year journey has just been dealing with, I don't want to say failure, but dealing with losses time after time."
Here's a guy who came face to face with discouragement and decided that, if he worked harder, he could beat it. He started by losing weight, and for the first time he trained in the off-season. He also rebuilt his swing, which, after being good enough for 21 tournament victories and $25 million during his career, took a little humility. Meanwhile, he overhauled his strategy, concentrating on his short shots.
And just to show how serious he was about change, Mickelson showed up at Augusta two weeks ago, earlier than any other player. He wanted to closely examine the course, a process that took two days.
Phil Mickelson did not win just because, after a 14-year career of oh-so-close experiences, his number finally came up. He won because he deserved it. He dominated the last half of the game Sunday, scoring the lowest on the back nine holes since golf great Jack Nicklaus in 1986.
It's the kind of victory that should inspire discouraged athletes everywhere, across all sports. And not just athletes, but everyone else, too.