Some choices areeasy. You're either a dog guy or a cat guy. Red state or blue. Letterman orLeno.
Same with TigerWoods versus Phil Mickelson. There's no in between. If you love Phil, you hateTiger. Or vice versa. Can't be both. It's like saying, "I truly cherishMichael Moore and Ann Coulter!"
So no inbetween--you're a Phil guy (PG) or you're a Tiger guy (TG). And which you aresays more about you than you know. For instance....
A TG is aclotheshorse, much like his hero, with the 30-inch waist and Mark Spitzshoulders. A PG is more of a charley horse. Some days his hero looks like hepulled his outfit out of a bus depot locker. "Tiger always looks sooogood," says Pam Rojan of Macon, Ga. "My husband is always saying, 'Doyou realize how many sit-ups I'd have to do to look like that?'"
A TG likes atwo-hour workout after breakfast. A PG likes a two-hour breakfast. He thinksdeltoids are a breath mint. "Tiger guys wear Under Armour," says KevinCartin of Boulder, Colo. "Phil guys wear manziers."
A PG is softerand rounder than a TG. When a TG hits his thumb with a hammer, the f bombs canbe heard in Poughkeepsie. When a PG hits his thumb with a hammer, he swallowshard and says, "My goodness, that's an inordinate amount of pain!"
A PG comes homefrom work, gets on one knee and his kids mob him. A TG doesn't come home fromwork, at least not mentally.
"My wifeloves that part when all Phil's kids come running out to give Daddy a hug,"says Rex Post, a rabid golf fan from Phoenix. Yeah? It drives TGs bananas."Where are the kids when he finishes 35th?" grumbles Scott Chambers ofSan Diego. "He never flies them in for that."
A TG loveshistory, and no golfer means more to American history than Tiger, the militarykid who brought color to a white game. "My dad was denied entry into a lotof golf courses when he was a young man," says Todd Hestor of Danbury,Conn., an African-American TG. "For him, it meant everything when Tiger wonthat first Masters." How's Phil supposed to match that? March forlefthanders?
A TG enjoys afriendly wager on a Saturday football game. A PG moves the line four points. APG is a gambler, the kind of guy who thinks it makes perfect sense to try tohit a shot through the maintenance shack, off the water fountain and onto thegreen. A TG is into sustained and precise excellence. A PG wins his match bysurviving his mistakes. A TG wins by not making any.
But how hard isit to root for Tiger, a golf god since he was two, say the PGs? It's likebetting on the sunrise or rooting for Donald Trump to win the Publisher'sClearinghouse sweepstakes. Rooting for Phil, on the other hand, is likewatching a drunk chase a balloon near a cliff. You pray he gathers it in beforeyou have to call the ambulance.
"I used tolike Tiger," says Phillip Barrett, "but I lost interest once he startedwinning everything."
"I can'tstand Phil," says Chambers. "Who wears a watch on the course? What's itfor, to remind him to have that third sandwich at the turn?"
Some PGs dislikeTiger because he can't decide on facial hair, wears red too often, married aforeigner. "I'm not a Tiger guy because, let's face it, no matter howintimidating he is, his name is still Eldrick," says Michael Cuschieri ofFarmington Hills, Mich. "Eldricks do my taxes. Eldricks fix my computer.Eldricks don't win majors."
TGs, on theother hand, literally don't like Phil's face--"fake beaver grin," theysay. Or "used-car salesman." Or "Zoloft boy." But PGs love Philfor that same look. "No matter how bad it gets," one says, "he'salways smiling. He's an optimist."
Afterward, a PGknows he'll get his autograph. Phil leads the tour in hand cramps. Even aftercommitting nationally televised hara-kiri at Winged Foot last month, he stoodand signed for 10 minutes. "Phil will always say hello to us," saysGeorge Bale, 18, of Augusta, Ga. "We asked Tiger for his autograph, and hecussed us. He's got such an attitude." Well, exactly! A TG relishes gettingblown off by Tiger. "Look how focused!" he'll gush.
The truth is,the two Southern Californians are more alike than different. Both marriedblonde neck-snappers. Both have more money than Oman. Both love taking risks:Phil flies planes. Tiger bungee jumps. Both ski. And they're far and away thecofavorites to win this week's British Open.
Which one will Ibe rooting for?
I'm anABVG--Anybody But Vijay Guy.
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If you love Phil Mickelson, you hate Tiger Woods. Orvice versa. There's no in between. It's like saying, "I truly cherishMichael Moore and Ann Coulter!"
PETER READ MILLER