Thursday, June 16, 2005
I've become a golf fan as a result of the "Tiger effect." It's not that I'm a Tiger fan, but I started following the sport because of his remarkable talent and dominance. But now I'm to the place where I'll watch snatches of a tournament even if he isn't playing or in contention, and I'm glued to the majors even if he shoots a 76 on Thursday.
Until Tuesday, though, I didn't have a favorite golfer. There have always been a few guys I've liked—Furyk, Toms, and Goosen, for example. But this week JW (the friend who took the photo) and I got a great deal on tickets for a practice round for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Practice rounds are definitely the time to go, by the way, if you ever have the chance. Many of the golfers went out of their way to interact with the crowd. We saw Toms sign autographs and another young lad carry on flirtations with a member of the gallery over the course of several holes.
Something about Phil Mickelson's relationship with the crowd was different, though. It's hard to put a finger on precisely what, but I think it's that he treated them not as adoring fans, but as peers. It was in the tone of his voice. In the eye contact. And, of course, in the fact that he spent 30 minutes or more signing autographs after his round. I'll be pulling for him this weekend and many more.
Posted by Ben at 6/16/2005