The Republic Masthead

Phil-ing void of golf hero difficult


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It’s so hard to let go.

If you have lived a little, and you are an avid sports fan, I’m sure you have suffered while watching your favorite football, basketball, baseball, et al., star get old.

Sorry Phil Mickelson, but I just have to say, “So long.”

I’m sure there are a lot of Tiger Woods fans out there as well shopping for a new guy to follow.

As much as we all would like to show our support when a tremendous athlete’s skills begin to decline, it becomes too painful.

Golf is a strange sport for anyone to watch. There are no spectacular hits or great catches. Half the action is broadcast from the green and focuses on whether that ball rolls in the hole or not.

There’s the putt. Ahhhhh. Ohhhhh. Ewwwww. How nice.

Watching a collection of PGA Tour pros putt, guys you don’t care about, can get pretty tedious. If you don’t believe me, go out to your local golf course and stand by the putting green for 30 minutes.

You need a connection. You need to care. I always have cared about Phil.

When every golf major event rolls around, the television network gains or loses my interest depending on what Mickelson does in the early rounds. So there I was Thursday, watching Lefty on the seventh hole.

He was right alongside the green. Phil the magician. Phil the fantastic. Phil the flub.

Alongside the green in two shots, Phil sent a chip across the green and it kept trickling, trickling, trickling until it caught a slope of the green that carried it 30 feet away. Yikes.

That was stroke three. Stroke four went 8 feet past the other direction. Stroke five waved as it passed the hole the other way. Stroke six was ugly as well. At least he tapped in for triple bogey.

Fans’ heads by the green swiveled back and forth like they were watching a tennis match.

On one horrible hole, it was over. I grabbed the remote, hit the three buttons it takes to turn off my television these days, and went to wash the dishes.

And that’s a shame for me.

Not because the dishes don’t need cleaning, but because I lost interest in a truly great sporting event. My golfer of choice has a bad back these days because he doesn’t practice enough. He doesn’t practice enough because he has a bad back, or because he has psoriatic arthritis or whatever other ailments golf can do to a body over a 30-year period. Think golf can’t be tough on a body? Ask Tiger.

It’s time to pick another favorite golfer. I know, Mickelson gave me, and millions of other fans, five majors and wonderful memories. And it’s not like I am abandoning ship completely. I will still root for him on those occasions he rekindles the magic.

I just need to find a golfing hero who is going to be there for me. Hello, Jordan Spieth?

I’ll be taking applications soon.

Have you experienced something similar? How many of you watched a baseball player like Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays in their final days, hobbled shadows of their former selves? How tough is it to embrace Mike Trout or Yasiel Puig?

Does anyone remember Joe Namath’s final days, when it seemed to be a struggle for him just to back up into the pocket? It’s hard to root for Geno Smith when your most fond memories are of Namath.

How painful is it to see Kobe Bryant’s body breaking down? Can we switch to Victor Oladipo without losing a beat?

If you’ve gone through the suffering as well, sticking with a sports hero in their final days, let me know. I would like to hear your stories.

Misery loves company.

Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at jheater@therepublic.com or 379-5632.

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