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Sat, Jan 26, 2013, 00:00

Compiled by MARY HANNIGAN

Lefty right-on for his Republican golfing buddies

Poor Phil Mickelson. Although, with an estimated net worth of €135 million, including career earnings around the €50 million mark and tasty sponsorship deals with the likes of Callaway, Barclays, KPMG, Exxon, Rolex and Amgen/Pfizer, you’d have to assume the fella won’t go without his supper.

Still, as we know, he had a stressful old week, finding himself at the centre of a monster fuss after announcing he was so peeved by increased taxes in California – increases voted for by the people of the state, resulting in California going from a projected €19 billion budget deficit to a projected surplus, while, at the same time, increasing spending on education – he was considering upping putters and moving on.

As more than a few noted, that monicker of his, “Lefty” suddenly became a bit like dubbing a fella with arrow-straight hair “Curly”.

Later, he conceded, “I’ve made some dumb, dumb mistakes, and obviously, talking about this stuff was one of them,” after the reaction to his remarks was less than universally sympathetic – his sort-of-apology, though, broke the hearts of many who had hailed his initial remarks.

Rush Limbaugh, for one, was crestfallen, at a loss to understand why Mickelson had apologised for speaking out against the “Soviet” revolution in America.

Tax Resolution Services

Mind you, if Mickelson tuned in to Limbaugh’s website to read the transcript from his radio show that dealt with the issue, he’d have seen it peppered with ads for “Tax Resolution Services, Inc”, featuring Limbaugh’s smiling face under “Get Protection from the IRS! [Internal Revenue Service] – You don’t want to fight this fight alone!”.

Phil’s probably clicking the link as we speak.

But no, not everyone felt Mickelson’s pain, Forbes’ Tony Nitti, for example, insinuating that €135 million was a more than decent return on “swinging a metal stick up to 70 times a day” and “repeatedly striking a tiny white ball until it falls into a hole”.

As opposed to, maybe, those who earn marginally less for, say, teaching children, tending to the sick and saving folk from burning buildings, do-gooder occupations that don’t always attract lucrative sponsorship deals from Rolex, Exxon and the like.

“And then there’s the impact of Obamacare,” wrote Nitti. “When you consider that from now on, Mickelson will be liable for an additional 0.9% tax on his self-employment income and 3.8% tax on his net investment income after each exceeds $250,000, what’s left over from the multi-million dollar endorsement deal requiring him to sport a Rolex watch while playing private courses in exotic locales hardly seems worth it.”

Ed Kilgore, in Washington Monthly (authentic “Lefty” alert), was no kinder.

“Perhaps he’s an egomaniacal jerk who actually thinks gross income is an accurate measurement of personal worth. Or maybe he’s just a loudmouth who’s already chastising himself for bitching about his after-tax income when his fan-base is mostly composed of people who would accept his job for peanuts.”

The lack of empathy was startling.

Happily, Tiger Woods was there for Mickelson in his hour of need, reminding everyone he had hightailed it out of California in 1996 for the same “Guv’mint are coming to take my loot and threatening to spend it on roads, bridges, education and Soviet stuff like that” reasons, the erstwhile foes bonding on perhaps the only issue that could ever bond them: tax.

Hands on their hearts

You can be sure, too, most – maybe even all – of Mickelson’s Tour colleagues placed their hands on their hearts and whispered affectionately “you speak for us, Phil” when they saw him emote on the tax issue on their TVs, him sitting there, appropriately enough, in his KPMG cap.

That’s quite a turnaround, of course, for the man who, while hugely popular with golf followers, is, we’ve always been told, in a never-ending battle with Sergio Garcia for the title of “the player most loathed”by his tiny-ball-whacking colleagues.

“FIGJAM” – “F**k I’m good, just ask me” – they dubbed him years ago, GQ even placing him in their “Ten Most Hated Athletes” list in 2006, all of which came as a shock to those who worship at Mr Smiley’s feet and regard his short game as the eighth wonder of the world.

Indeed, it has often been intimated that Mickelson, in humility terms, makes Tiger sound like Katie Taylor.

That, you can probably be sure, will all change now, Phil has aired his buddies’ grievances and for that they will be eternally grateful, and may contribute even more to the Republican party than they, as a species, already do, in the hope that the revolution will be repealed in 2016.

Unless they were moved by President Obama’s inaugural speech, and that call for unity and equality. “For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”

Actually, it’s unlikely the shrinking few were watching, they were probably busy striking a tiny white ball until it fell into a hole, before having a chat with Tax Resolution Services, Inc. And where, you should ask yourself, would humanity be without their selfless, over-taxed contributions?

Arter could join brother-in-law Parker in big time

Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter is catching an English Premier League eye or two, by all accounts, and could find himself moving upwards, soon enough, from League One.

If it happens, then that’ll be two Premier League players in the extended family – Arter is married to the sister of a Spurs and England midfielder.

As BBC co-commentator David Pleat put it: “His brother-in-law is Scott Parker, so he’s got a good pedigree.”

Armstrong bio dropped after our boyo confesses (kind of)

The people who run Lance Armstrong’s official website had some altering to do during the week after more than a few reports pointing out the “bio” on his site was a touch out of date.

“Since he made history in 1999, he has won the tour (de France) six more times, and has become one of the most recognizable and admired people of this era,” it read, even after he’d confessed (nearly) all to Oprah Winfrey.

“If scripted by Hollywood,” it continued, “the story would be dismissed as trite melodrama: A deadly disease strikes a promising athlete. Despite desperately thin odds, he manages not only to beat the affliction but also to return to the sport and win its top prize, not once but a record seven times. Unbelievable, except it’s true.”

Yesterday? No bio, just a contact link and a photo of Armstrong jogging.

Anyone for the last few tickets? A snip at €240 each

Victoria Azarenka’s much talked-about medical time-out at a crucial stage of her Australian Open semi-final against American teenager Sloane Stephens didn’t make her widely loved in Melbourne.

Her initial admission that she took the break because she was on the verge of a “meltdown”, rather than actually being injured, prompting more than a little tut-tutting.

Having received some flack for his comments after losing to Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga declaring that women tennis players “are more unstable emotionally than us . . . it’s about the hormones and all this stuff”, he was, possibly, then tempted to add: “See? Told ya.”

The forecast for today’s final, then, is that China’s Li Na will have the bulk of the support from the 15,000 crowd – if that many show up.

As of yesterday, there were still tickets available for the final, which wasn’t quite the dream Maria Sharapova v Serena Williams contest the hosts might have wished for. Still, when you checked the prices it wasn’t too tricky to figure out why, especially when the most you could hope for would be three sets.

One adult ticket cost A$294.90 (€228), with an additional A$7.60 delivery fee (even if you picked it up at the stadium), which is just less than €240.

Happily, concession/child tickets were much cheaper: A$279.90.

The men’s final was sold out yesterday, one adult and one child ticket coming to a total of in or around €600.

Truly, the people’s game.

Monsieur Pardew crosses French line

It was as long ago as 1999 that a team featuring not a single English player was first fielded in the Premier League, Chelsea going down an entirely “foreign” route with their line-up against Southampton that day.

They did, at least have four English players on the bench, unlike Arsenal five years later when Arsene Wenger’s squad for a game against Crystal Palace didn’t include a single English player.

One manager who was unimpressed at the time by this largely French flavour was Alan Pardew, then in charge of West Ham United.

“I saw a headline saying Arsenal are flying the flag for Britain. I kind of wondered where that British involvement actually was when I looked at their team,” he said.

“It’s important that top clubs don’t lose sight of the fact it’s the English Premier League and English players should be involved . . . to some extent, we could lose the soul of British football – the English player.

“We have a young team at West Ham and we are proud we have so many Englishmen.”

Fast forward to 2013 and, after their transfer window shopping, Newcastle United now have 11 French players in their squad, and another three who are French speakers.

They haven’t signed an English player under their current manager, who joined the club at the end of 2010. And he is?

Oui, as Football 365 have dubbed him, “Alain Pardieu of Newchateau”.

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