Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I Like Phil

Nice to see Phil Mickelson win another major tournament, especially one as tough as the PGA at Baltusrol. Much has been written about Phil's popularity on the tour, but speaking for myself, he comes off like someone I'd actually like to spend a few hours with out on the golf course.

Most of these guys come off like arrogant jerks. Tiger gets bent out of shape if someone breathes heavily in the middle of his backswing. Vijay, Els, Goosen—all too foreign, too inaccessible. Phil? Hey, it's Phil! Hey Phil, let's grab the clubs and go shoot a round, whaddaya say?

His kids hold an undeniable appeal to me, as well, which is probably true for many others. The thrill of seeing him win the Masters was matched by the congratulations he received from his two young daughters. Simply put, Phil seems like one of us. Some tour players grumble that his "man of the people" persona is a bit of an act, but don't we suspect that about the celebrities we like? So-called "good guys" like Tom Hanks seem like the guy next door, but what's he really like in private? It's the certain appeal of seeing celebrity faults exposed that keeps the tabloids in business and hefty profits year after year. But still, I'm gonna root for Phil every time he plays. I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

The other thing I like best about pro golf's major tournaments is how it makes these professional experts seem at times like you and me on the front nine of our local public course. Drives that sail off into the woods, rough shots that pooch out short only to land in a sand bunker, putts that veer feet off course—the sheer frustration of a game that no one on the planet has been able to consistently master with any degree of certainty.

We always knew that Joe Montana would win the Superbowl, that the Yankees would win the World Series, that MJ's Bulls would win the NBA title, that Gretzky's Oilers would raise the Cup, but with golf, there's no telling who's going to win from week to week, major to major, year to year. It's the elusiveness of the game that keeps us going back for more—seeking perfection in a sport where perfection cannot be achieved and where victory is most fleeting. I'd equate golf with the Christian journey through life, except that I'm sure Jesus doesn't like what I say when I slice my drive into the water.

No comments: