They say that one man’s loss is another man’s gain. And whoever gets sloppy seconds on Elin Woods is going to be one lucky bugger. But it isn’t just the Swede’s next fuck buddy who will be giving thanks for the events of last Thanksgiving, there’s a whole raft of golfers rubbing their hands.
First in line is Phil Mickelson, given that if he wins the Players Championship he will replace Woods as World No1. Imagine that. A world in which Woods is not No1 is a bit like trying to picture Labour not being in power, Liverpool not being in the Champions League or Bill Gates not being the richest man on earth. Oh, hold on…
In all honesty, though, there can be no more worthy successor than Lefty. And it’s not because he is a clean-living family man off the course – or even because his wife has gone through a hard time with breast cancer – although that makes his recent Masters win all the more extraordinary. It’s simply because he is simply the most exciting golfer in the world.
And he’s done it the hard way. He took a shitstorm of grief for not winning a major for so many years, put up with endless fat boy comments – some from Tiger’s own camp – and yet never compromised his beliefs. He may have shed a few pounds here and there but he never resorted to gay golf. He never played it safe. He just kept on firing at those pins, tin cup style.
Eventually his attacking play was rewarded by his first Masters green jacket in 2004, then the US PGA in 2005, then two more green jackets. The shot he played at the approach to the 13th in his final round at Augusta last month was one of the finest shots ever seen. He showed skill, imagination and balls of steel. Which is what you want to see from the world’s best golfer.
It’s going to be intriguing to see how Mickelson fares at the Players Championship this weekend. And it’ll be just as exciting to see how Tiger copes after his missed cut last week. The fact that Woods is no longer the favourite at the outset of a tournament – something that hasn’t happened this century – might just rile him enough to get back to his old self again. Then again, it might not. Tiger is no longer favourite, Lefty is. Tiger is no longer king of the jungle, Lefty is. The king is dead. Long live the king. Read more.