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This lefty likes Phil ‘Lefty’ Mickelson

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This lefty likes Phil ‘Lefty’ Mickelson

By Richard Zowie

(Published in the April 14, 2010 issue of the Mt. Morris/Clio and Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald in Michigan)

My, how times have changed.

It seemed like only yesterday (actually, 2003) when Phil Mickelson was the joke of golf. In those days he was a popular golfer without a major victory on the PGA tour. He commented about Tiger Woods being good despite using “inferior equipment” from Nike. Mickelson later claimed his comments were misunderstood while Woods went on to win more and more major titles, make lots of money and eventually marry a former Swedish model. Woods was the talk of the golf world as he won every event in sight, as Michigan golf authorities begged him to attend the Warwick Hills Buick Open in Grand Blanc. Mickelson, who finally won his first major in 2004 when he won the Master’s tournament in Augusta, Ga., was golf’s bridesmaid destined to live in Woods’ shadow. Especially with Woods’ insatiable drive to win no matter how many victories he’d accumulated.

Mickelson has now won four majors after Sunday’s win at the Master’s. He picked up his third green jacket by shooting a 16 under par. Woods was five back at 11 under.

We remember Woods, don’t we?

You know: the vehicle crash, the women coming forward and saying they’d had affairs with him, the far-too-much-information text messages (Woods must’ve naïvely assumed his girlfriends would just delete the incriminating messages), his wife moving out and their marriage being as uncertain as Michigan weather patterns during the transition into spring. Woods laid low, checked himself into sex rehab and then gave a public apology that seemed as scripted as a reality show. One mistress from Woods’ harem described the golf star as a lousy tipper, and others remark about how Woods is extremely surly towards autograph seekers, even children.

News reports say Woods was even caught on live television using profanity to express displeasure with himself during this most recent Master’s competition.

And then there’s Mickelson.

In 2009, before Hurricane Elin hit Woods and while Woods’ infidelities were said to be open secrets on the PGA tour, Mickelson’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Lefty announced he would suspend his golf career indefinitely to be with his wife. Unlike Woods, Mickelson is said to be very fan friendly: he signs autographs, acknowledges the gallery and is very approachable.

Nike used to run “I’m Tiger Woods!” commercials. I have to wonder if golf has spent far too long marketing the wrong person. Instead of a surly, Jekyll and Hyde womanizer, maybe they should use a family man who loves the game and its fans.

As Tiger plans his comeback, I’m still laughing at the comments of his caddy, Steve Williams, who said he won’t tolerate any heckling of Woods by fans at golf tournaments. He probably also would prefer fans not breathe lest Woods’ porcelain-fragile concentration be shattered into a quillion pieces.

Williams should thank the golf gods that his boss is a golfer and not a baseball player.

Remember Boston Red Sox star Wade Boggs? In 1988, it was revealed he’d had an affair with a lady named Margo Adams. Guess what Boggs got to listen to at each ballpark on the road? “MAAARRRGO! MAAARRRGO!” Later that season, during a road game in Anaheim against the now-Los Angeles Angels, some smart aleck organist played the theme to “The Addams Family” while Boggs was at bat. Boggs also faced the humilation of Adams granting a Penthouse interview and disclosing details of her and Boggs’ sex life.

One of these days I would like to start golfing as a hobby. Somewhere in storage, I have a set of left-handed golf clubs my father-in-law bought for me during a rummage sale excursion (I’m a natural left-hander who also bats and golfs left-handed). If and when I do start golfing, I want to be like Lefty, not Tiger.

Richard Zowie’s a reporter and columnist for the Herald. He thinks a golf handicap is having to wear his coke-bottle glasses while swinging a club. Visit his blog at www.fromatozowie.wordpress.com or e-mail him at richardzowie@gmail.com.

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