What about him could possibly make some people in the media and some golf fans actively root for him to fail (again) in majors, and to take giddy delight when he does?
I know, I know. I myself have dubbed him "Nipples McSoft" (in a more doughy time of his) and blasted his "Father of the Year" stunts like skipping the Tour Championship to go trick-or-treating with his kids.
But I always gave him his due on the course. And I always made sure to say that we are all hypocrites as fans and media when it comes to athletes who are simply too nice, too classy, or too graceful in defeat.
I think Phil draws this sort of fire because he really does appear to be, "too good to be true." I mean, the guy signs way too many autographs (even so yesterday before and after he won the Claret Jug!) he's too good with the media, and handles his own golfing fuck ups with simply too much grace and humanity to be real.
But it is, mostly real.
He's a prince. A helluva family man. And yeah, a goofball.
I think that's where Phil draws his anti-Phil incoming fire. He's not a "phony" - there's simply no alternate resume of incidents which would say he's an asshole when the cameras are turned off. He's just a goofball. A cheeseball. Dork.
And if that's the biggest knock against a man, well then, you are doing pretty well.
If Phil just cut that hair, stopped making the rest of us fathers look utterly derelict by comparison, and found just a little bit harder "edge" to his persona (not much, just a single notch on a big dial in the direction of "jerk") I would be a hard core Phil Phanatic.
I'm not. Likely never will be. But I am happy when he wins like this. He deserves it, and golf is a sport of perseverance.
I remember when many golf writers too not-so-subtle delight in him being "0-for-43" in majors before winning the Masters in 2004. It was asinine and I didn't get it.
Being good in sports, and being a good guy, carries an extra burden in the world we live in these days. A burden to somehow prove it's not "an act." If you fail to match the media's snarkiness over your failures with equal bite, you start to become an easy target.
Phil's no easy target now. He's climbing the pantheon of greats to ever play the game.
5 Majors - including 3 of the 4
6 Seconds at the US Open
43 Tour Wins, 1 every year for the last 10 years and 18 of his last 20!
US Amateur Title
Won a pro event as a collegian
Been on every US team event (Ryder and Presidents Cup) since he turned pro, and will likely do so until he's 50. With Tiger's injury hiatus stopping his streak, nobody will own a longer streak in the post-Nicklaus era. Ever.
And he's the single best short game magician the game has ever seen. Period. Full stop.
Seve was magical in his own way, but had none of the aerial arsenal Phil has with all of his flop shots.
Perfect wife. Perfect kids. She beat cancer. He's beating back auto-immune arthritis. One loyal caddy through all of it. Generous with his time, money, and media availability.
It's okay to "hate" him for that. It's natural. Just remember to keep it the kind of "hate" where you say: "Oh... I hate that guy. Look at his life!"