Single page view By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

Maybe it's because I didn't fall in love with – or even pay attention to – the PGA Tour until Tiger Woods joined the league, but there just isn't much I really want to know about Phil Mickelson or any other golfer beyond his play on the golf course.

So knowing whether Mickelson still gambles won't in any way enhance my enjoyment of The Masters, even if it's apparently an issue at Augusta. In fact, I'd rather not know. Ignorance being bliss and all, golf writers can simply stick to the obvious facts when it comes to the PGA Tour, as far as I'm concerned. I don't need any in-depth, behind-the-scenes personality profiles about the Big Four.

Watching them play is enough for me.

This, I'm guessing, is probably the way most fans feel about off-the-field issues in professional sports. They don't really care. Oh, like at a highway accident, they'll slow down to take a look at the wreckage that we (the media) uncover, but the view of the carnage doesn't improve the joy of the ride.

I came to this realization in the wake of a late Sunday night conversation in St. Louis, when a group of Final Four reporters started gossiping about the rumors circulating around Lefty. The journalist in me initially was intrigued. Lefty might or might not be in debt to a Vegas casino. But by the time Tuesday rolled around – and I learned that sports writers in Augusta, spurred on by the rumors, were asking Mickelson about his gambling – the golf fan in me had taken over, and my interest in the gossip had waned.

Who cares?

I didn't care that Jordan gambled. You think I care about Lefty? I loved the way Mickelson handled the inquiries, referring the questioners to chapter 13 of his recently-released book. Of course, Mickelson is shaking a stick at a bear (the media), which he'll probably live to regret; but it still provided me a good laugh.

For me, this year's Masters is the kickoff to what should be the greatest golf season in the history of the game. The year-long competition among Woods, Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els – the Big Four, which could turn into the Fab Five if Retief Goosen wins another major – could elevate the Tour to darn near the NFL level.

By the PGA Championship in August, these guys could collectively be the biggest stars in sports. (Tiger Woods already is.) I have no interest in seeing any of these guys tainted by off-the-course controversy. Furthermore, I'm just not very interested in knowing that much about them. I'm more than satisfied watching them swing the clubs.

I don't want to know their stances on political or social issues. Sure, Vijay's sexist comments about Annika Sorenstam's playing on the PGA Tour a couple of years ago created some great column fodder for me, and it made Vijay the player I love to hate. But Vijay isn't qualified to comment on social issues. He's a dumb jock.

I don't care what supplements athletes take. (Just threw that in to tick off the Barry Bonds critics.)

I don't want to learn about a golfer's personal demons, even if they're John Daly's demons. Seriously, this season wouldn't be any more enjoyable if Daly was one of the Big Four. It would be great for sports writers. But when it comes to golf, I'm mostly just a fan. And fans don't care about who's on the juice, who's gambling, who's being sued for spreading herpes, whose baby's mama has dragged an athlete to court or who can't handle his tequila.



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