I don’t think golfers are athletes. I don’t think it’s even an argument.
“Oh, but Matt, you try and do it, then you’ll think they’re athletes.” Well, I can’t develop software or bowl as well as professionals that do those things can, but that doesn’t make them athletes. The way I see it, I can’t garner a golfer’s athleticism from their playing golf. The sport of golf doesn’t prove golfers’ athleticism; therefore, they are not athletes. Watch basketball. You’ll see athleticism. Even watch soccer, same thing, etcetera, etcetera for many other sports. And so, for the remainder of this entry, I will be referring to these men as golfers or golfletes. Certainly not athletes.
Four to six times a year, golf is important. It is at the forefront of weekend television. This past weekend was one of those times. The British Open (I’m certainly not just going to call it “The Open,” as if it’s the only Open tournament in the world) was played over the last four days, and boy, was it a good one.
I enjoy the golf majors because they all sort of have a gimmick. The Masters has Augusta, The US Open is this impossibly difficult course and The British Open has links courses usually. It makes it unique and it makes it hard. Nothing better than seeing pro golfers shoot around par for an entire tournament. It’s like the check and balance for every regular golfer’s ego.
Going into Sunday, the leader, Lee Westwood, was just three under par. More importantly, Tiger Woods was just two behind him in second, at one under par. I’ll say this. I expected Lee Westwood to choke. So did anybody that had ever watched Lee Westwood in a big spot before. I was right. I expected Adam Scott to win, especially after he started out so well on Sunday. I was wrong. I didn’t expect Tiger to come out and shoot a 67 and take the tournament like he would have a decade ago. I was right.
But the LAST thing I expected was Phil Mickelson to go old school Tiger on us and win the tournament in dominating, clutch fashion. It was the last thing I expected, and the LAST thing I wanted.
You see, I hate Phil Mickelson. I don’t hate him as a person. I hate him in the way you’d hate a rival team’s best player. I’m a Tiger guy, and in my eyes, you can’t be a Tiger guy and a Phil guy. They are foils. I like Tiger because he is a competitor. He is everything I (and you should) want in your golfletes.
Here’s the thing. We all say we want a guy who is competitive to a fault. Somebody that, when he steps onto the field/court/course, thinks he is the best one out there and is going to win. Correct? That’s definitely a fact. That’s why we look at Michael Jordon like a God. As an American society, we value competitiveness very much. Myself in particular. I love Tiger because he just wants to win. When he hits a bad shot, yes he curses. When I pop out in softball, I curse. It’s his competitive spirit that makes him the best.
I don’t care that he cheated on his wife. That was wrong. Never in a million years would I or should anybody else condone that behavior. But at the same time, I’m not his father. Pro golfers are not role models. They are pro golfers, and that’s why I cheer for them.
Phil is the antithesis to the last two paragraphs. I’m just going to come out and say it: Phil Mickelson seems like a phony. His “Gee golly, I can’t believe how blessed I am just to be here” persona is so empty. I’m glad he is a great husband and father. That’s awesome. I could not care any less about that stuff when he is playing golf. But he’ll never let you forget it. “Hey, let me go kiss my wife on my walk to the 11th tee box to show everybody how much of a family guy I am!” Save me the act, Phil. I respect off the course things off the course. It’s the same on the course. Get that goofy smile off of your face.
The thing is, I really base this off of no real evidence that he’s phony. He could be Jesus Christ reincarnated into a lefty golfer. But then it was reinforced when I found out that other golfers call him “FIGJAM,” an acronym standing for “Fuck I’m good – just ask me.” It seems other golfers feel the same way as I. That being said, I’ve read of golfers that say he isn’t phony, that he’s just a goofy guy. I hate that part especially. He rubs me as a complete and utter phony, and I couldn’t have hated the fact that he won the tournament in such a grand fashion any more.
BUT as much as I hate the golflete that is Phil Mickelson, my hat goes off to him. What he did on Sunday deserves to be remembered, for a long time. Because as much as I hate the goofiness that is Phil Mickelson, I respect greatness. And what Phyllis (That’s what my uncle calls him because, let’s be real, he’s a chick) did on Sunday was the stuff of legends. It delights me that he’ll always be remembered as the second-best of his generation, but don’t get me wrong, he is one of the best to ever play golf. And I hate admitting it.