Cheering on Phil Mickelson at the Masters this weekend was easy to do. His charisma emanated from all corners of Augusta National Golf Club; the world could feel his warmth. Lefty pulled the golf fans into his world, making sure to smile and greet all as he walked through Amen Corner and down the home stretch.
After sinking a birdie at eighteen to place his name among three-time winners such as Sam Snead and Jimmy Demaret, Mickelson greeted his wife Amy and their children with honesty and passion that most women would have swooned over. There was probably not a dry eye in the entire viewing audience.
In stark contrast, Tiger Woods' dissatisfaction with his fourth place finish was barely gracious. There was no mention of how K.J. Choi kept pace over four grueling days at Augusta, no positive reinforcements about his own game and certainly not the Tiger Woods who grew up in front of our eyes.
With cursing and apologies becoming more frequent and Woods literally falling to pieces in front of our eyes, the old Tiger is gone and the new Woods is far from warm and fuzzy.
Golf has always tried to maintain a positive, wholesome image. With Tiger Woods' shift from family man to player, could Phil Mickelson be the new genuine image and front man of the sport?
Whereas Woods was swearing on the course and "coming across as a little petulant -- not terribly gracious in defeat," said Bob Dorfman, executive creative director for Baker Street Advertising, Mickelson's family man image was seen as a role model and could make advertisers take notice.
One problem with Mickelson as a leading man is that he is not as recognizable as Woods. Phil hasn't gained the facial or name recognition and a person like him needs wins and that center stage in publicity to keep him in the public eye," concludes John Antil, Professor of Marketing at the University of Delaware.
That lack of visibility could change with wins and only if Mickelson decides that the spotlight is what he truly wants.
Of course being in the spotlight has it's own disadvantages. With rumors now circulating about a fling between Amy Mickelson and Michael Jordan and a love child from Phil, perhaps it is better if Mickelson keeps his head down?