Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Shane Bacon take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @shanebacon.
Today, we're discussing Phil Mickelson. Lefty is starting his season in Abu Dhabi while the PGA Tour comes ashore for the Bob Hope Classic. Is that right? Is that just? Should Phil go wherever he pleases, or should he have an obligation to his homeland and his home tour? And so we begin:
Busbee: It's time for the Bob Hope again, and once again it's time to compare that field to the star-studded one half a world away in Abu Dhabi. Leading the charge of the international brigade is none other than ... Phil Mickelson? Hey, Phil, what the heck? You're playing internationally and not in America? What gives, man? Where's your stars-and-stripes pride? Lee Greenwood is shedding a tear, are you happy?
Bacon: First things first ... are we really going to get on Mickelson for taking the money that everyone else takes throughout the year? And we care that he misses the Bob Hope, one of the weakest tournaments of the season? He hasn't played in the Hope since 2007, and he's joining all four major winners from 2010 to highlight the European Tour event. I don't see the reason to get on these guys for taking money when it's offered to them. I know I would.
Busbee: To be honest, I agree with you. I think the PGA Tour has rested on its rep for far too long, and it's not only the players' job to rep the tour, it's the tour's job to attract the players. That said, for the sake of argument: Shouldn't Phil throw some love to the tour that's served him well for all these years? His presence would do wonders for the Hope; shouldn't he be strongly encouraged to play at home?
Bacon: I get what you're saying, but have to disagree. It isn't his job to carry the tour, as much as it has served him, and Phil playing overseas just shows the beauty of this game. Sure, he's going for money, but he's also taking the PGA Tour on the road with him in a sense. If Phil wins, or plays decent, he's being a solid ambassador for American golf, and showing that we can cross the ocean and win just like a lot of non-Americans do on the PGA Tour. Go forth, hit it straight, and show 'em who's boss, Mr. Mickelson.
Busbee: U-S-A! U-S-A! The globalism is a key point, and one that Mickelson himself has mentioned. The America-first mindset is what let the PGA Tour get overtaken -- or, at least challenged by -- the European Tour. Still, I'd love to see the big names play the less-notable tournaments. All the more reason to get one-in-four (each player plays each tournament once every four years) up and running, pronto.
There you have it. And now it's your turn. Should Phil start in the U.S., or can he go where he pleases. Have your say!