Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Birthday: Phil Mickelson (born 1970)

Is Phil Mickelson the most entertaining personality ever associated with the game of golf? Well, although I don't think that Arnold Palmer is going to give up the title without a fight, I'd say that Lefty has to be in that conversation. Love him or hate him, everything he does, every word he speaks, is news.

There are those who think that Mickelson's "Hail fellow, well met" persona is fakey, but I'm not one of them, and I'll tell you why. I had the honor to attend the second round of the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, and naturally I watched Phil and Tiger Woods closely. Woods is a clenched personality, to put it mildly. Interrupt his concentration, and he'll shoot you a look to kill. Which is far scarier in person than on television.

Phil, by contrast, is all relaxed bonhomie out there, even when he's got an important shot coming up. He interacts with the crowd constantly. "We're having a great time here today!" After the round was over, I watched him sign autographs and chat with fans for well over an hour without any sign of tiring. He loves the attention he gets, but he gives back, too. I don't think that's fake in the least.

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