Woods shines as Mickelson shows disrespect
Another extraordinary week of golf has passed and the major fire has been stoked beautifully ahead of the US Open by Tiger Woods's vintage victory at the Memorial.
Is Woods finished? Does he need to change his coach? It doesn't look that way now. At the very least Woods is back to where he was in 2009 when he won in his last tournament before all four majors.
With his wins at Bay Hill and now in Ohio he is two out of two in that respect again this year.
The question now is whether he can do something that was beyond him three years ago and turn warm-up success into a major triumph. It was well beyond the 14-time major champion at Augusta this year but I suspect he will make a more robust challenge at Olympic Club next week.
Tiger Woods clinched the Memorial Tournament on Sunday. Photo: Getty
Phil Mickelson's withdrawal in Ohio after a disappointing first-round 79, citing fatigue, was less impressive. Just as disappointingly, his premature departure was met with a collectively forgiving shrug of resignation.
There was a general acceptance that Mickelson was better served readying himself for the US Open elsewhere. Never mind the fans who had bought Friday or weekend tickets in the hope of seeing "Lefty" in action.
Mickelson seems to have been given a pass largely off the back of previous good behaviour. He has been a fine ambassador for the game, perhaps the best of recent times.
His natural charisma, engaging personality, inexhaustible willingness to sign autographs and enlightened sense of what sponsors require make him a tournament director's dream.
But imagine the reaction had it been Woods who walked away after the first found? He would have been held to account in a far more critical way than was the case for "good old Phil".
This blog has often spoken in praise of Mickelson but in this case his actions are hard to defend. Once a tournament is entered it should be seen through - unless physical injury makes that impossible.
To treat an event as big as Memorial as a mere major warm-up is disrespectful. This was a big tournament in its own right and, in Woods's sensational chip in at the 16th, it got the finish and champion if deserved.
While we are on the subject of player behaviour, let's consider the limp way in which officialdom deals with breaches of accepted standards.
Many contributors here last week highlighted Wentworth's hall of shame: Rory McIlroy's club throwing, Thomas Bjorn's contretemps with a rules official and Ernie Els's foul mouthed tirade.
Els apologised and made an undisclosed contribution to charity but otherwise we have heard no official word of censure for incidents that did nothing for the game.
It is all too cosy. If a player is fined the punishment should be made known. The embarrassment and shame of the penalty is far greater than any financial forfeit.
That's one if the reasons why Ross Fisher's one-stroke penalty for slow play in Wales is so welcome. Punishments need to be felt. This one also cost Fisher a share of second place and it could ultimately do for his Ryder Cup chances.
I suspect we will see the Englishman seek a quicker pre-shot routine in future, in which case the action has had the desired effect.
While we are in rant mode, could we also have action taken to punish players who don't shout fore when their shots are heading towards galleries? It is no way to treat those who contribute towards your wages.
And could we get into step with the rest of the world and ban smoking in the golfer's workplace? How can we take Spencer Levin for a serious athlete when he's so conspicuously puffing his way round the course?
It is a terrible advertisement for the game and suggests it remains in the dark ages.
All of which has no part in a sport that week in, week out is capable of serving up such captivating entertainment.