Bogey golf: Mickelson plays a bad stroke

        It seems that just about everyone but his wife wants Tiger Woods back.  Now we learn that Phil Mickelson misses Tiger too.  He told reporters a couple of days ago that he wants the wayward star back on tour.

        "The game of golf needs him to come back,” said Mickelson. “I mean, it's important for him to come back and be a part of the sport."

        What’s next?  Hillary Clinton urges John Edwards to return to national politics?

        Woods’ two months of silence has worked a kind of rope-a-dope magic on Mickelson, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and the many bloggers drooling at the prospect of a near-term return for the superstar.

Maybe all those non-golfers have been right all along:  Golf is too boring to watch.

They’ve all punched themselves silly in the process, none more so than Mickelson, the poster boy for family values on tour.  While he was coming to the aid of his ailing wife, Woods was humiliating his.  Odd that Mickelson should be the first high-profile player to urge Woods’ return; odd, that is, unless you follow the money (prize money).

        Finchem and company will tell you that much more than prize money is at stake without Woods playing, and that the $100 million or so the tournaments generate for local charities are at risk without Woods.  But the Travelers Championship in small-market Hartford, CT, raises more than $1 million per year without Woods ever showing up; a little more creativity on the part of the PGA Tour, and its partners could make up for much of any shortfall.

        Memo to PGA Tour:  Learn the lesson of baseball, whose celebration of paper heroes like Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds was a flawed strategy.  By dancing around the golden tiger and anointing Woods bigger than the tour, Mickelson and Finchem are acknowledging that the PGA’s competitive model is fundamentally flawed and that all those non-golfers we thought didn’t understand the game have been right all along:  Golf is just too boring to watch.

         With his febrile plea to Woods to come back, Mickelson pulled out the wrong club and swung too hard.

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