This is why a star athlete wants to have an
entourage – for the helpful media spin they can bring. Golfer Phil Mickelson would be
dealing with plenty of stomach-based butterflies heading into this week’s US
PGA championship at the Medinah
Country Club in Illinois, the last of
the year’s majors.

At the US Open in June, Mickelson led by
two shots with three holes to play. A bogey at the 16th and
double-bogey at the 18th later, he had lost by a shot to Australia’s
Geoff Ogilvy. At the time, all the headlines were about
Phil’s choke, not Geoff’s win, but that was fair enough in America,
where Mickelson is a major name. And it was a spectacular choke.

Now, back on home soil after a ho-hum
British Open (tied for 22nd, as Tiger won), the reigning Masters
champion would have been hoping to get his game quietly going when it matters.

Enter Lefty’s short-game coach, Dave Pelz.
He felt moved to tell Ed Sherman, of the Chicago Tribune, that his boy, Phil,
was better than any golfer on the planet – and that includes you, Tiger. “When Phil’s at
his best, I’m thinking nobody can beat him,” Pelz declared. “If
Phil’s long swing is good, his short game, I believe, is the best in the world.
He doesn’t have a serious weakness inside 150 yards.”

“I’m not saying
Tiger’s short game is bad. He has a great short game. But I think Phil putts
more consistently than Tiger does. He has more imagination and a few more shots
around the green.”

Needless to say, Pelz’s mouth has dominated
pre-PGA locker-room talk and the media covering the event still haven’t stopped

“My man, he’s
enthusiastic,” said Mickelson at a news conference. “I have tried to
not give you too much to run with, and so I’m paying other people now to do