With all of the horrific embarrassment that Tiger Woods has brought to the PGA Tour in the last six months, it's no wonder the golf press is trying to restore the Tour's image by glorifying their blonde haired Aryan knight, Phil Mickelson.
They have a lot to be worried about.
The fact is that the Woods scandal has called into question the lifestyles of everyone on tour. Let's face it, the PGA Tour is a travelling circus of several hundred guys (including press, caddies and hangers on), most of whom have a lot of time on their hands over the course of an entire tournament week.
Now, we all know what happens when you put a bunch of guys together with too much money and idle time. They don't call it the Devil's playground for nothing.
No wonder Hank Haney resigned as Tiger's instructor. What wife would let her husband hang out with this guy on weekends? Believe me, Stevie's feeling the heat at home too. I wouldn't be surprised if Jim Nantz' wife isn't checking out his cellphone every Monday when he comes home.
The Tour needs a savior to redeem its reputation and Phil is the chosen one. And why not? He's been the second best player in golf for the last 10 years. He's photogenic, articulate with the press, and popular with fans everywhere. Even better, he has a traditional nuclear family to which he has been faithful.
At least as far as we know.
Can you imagine the ignominy of being caught cheating on your wife who has cancer? Ask former senator John Edwards, another guy who was flying constantly from city to city with too much time and money on his hands.
Tiger Woods is now the fallen idol. Cast out of the temple, he has become the Evil One himself. Small faults that were formerly ignored, like cursing occasionally and not making much direct eye contact with galleries, are now trumpeted as crucial evidence of his fundamentally malevolent nature.
Even when he complains of a sore neck, he is accused being dishonest and evasive.He's inherently untrustworthy, isn't he? Not at all like the rest of the guys on tour, right?
No longer do we hear Phil Mickelson called a distant second banana to the greatest golfer of all time.
Nor do we hear him described as an underachiever, the "I'm such an idiot" buffoon who thinks "course management" is a grounds keeping class at a golf superindent's school.
No longer does his geeky one inch hop of joy at the 2004 Masters pale in comparison to Tiger Woods' masculine victory fist thrust toward the heavens.
With his third Master's victory, the press is rushing to trade in his "Miss Congeniality" award, and proclaim him a legitimate Great White Hope for the golfing world.
And who knows? If he can win at Pebble and bag another Masters and PGA, maybe golf will be able to manufacture another Arnold Palmer — at least as long as he doesn't have any strippers in his closet.
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