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Inside the Hawk's mind

Phil Mickelson
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You can call me a retired tweeter, or for that matter, a retweeted tire, but I've only got so many aimless thoughts rattling around in my head. Consider this my official pregame target practice for the week's live chats: Thursday and Friday from 3-6 p.m. ET, on

• Go ahead, check the transcript — I had Phil Mickelson as my Masters favorite before he burned down Pebble Beach last Sunday. That's 40 career victories for Philly Mick. Twice as many as Greg Norman, one more than Tom Watson, which makes this a good time to stop and smell the azaleas. Mickelson is inching his way toward becoming one of the top 10 golfers of all-time.

• Last week was anything but a total loss for the Dude in the Red Shirt. Tiger returned to the West Coast Swing, spoke out against long putters while offering a somewhat reasonable solution, drove Pebble's TV ratings through the ceiling and committed to the Honda Classic for the first time ever. If you're not going to win golf tournaments, might as well make yourself useful.

• As a huge NBA fan who lives an hour north of New York City, I certainly can appreciate the remarkable story that is Jeremy Lin. For those who don't understand all the fuss, imagine Jonas Blixt winning the Masters and U.S. Open. Two steps beyond improbable, one long stride from impossible.

• Good to see Natalie Gulbis increasing the LPGA's, ahem, visibility by appearing in the body-paint section of Sport's Illustrated's 2012 swimsuit issue. Actually, it's good to see Gulbis, period. It would be even better to see her win a golf tournament.

• Now I know why the NFL moved the Pro Bowl — so all those guys can go shoot 86 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

• I don't want to play the role of Johnny Jinx or anything, but when's the last time an entire West Coast Swing was played without a single weather delay?

• Too bad Mickelson has bailed on next week's WGC-Accenture Match Play gathering, but his spot in the field was taken by Ernie Els, which isn't exactly stellar news for defending champ Luke Donald, who continues to hold a comfortable lead atop the world ranking and will be the top seed. Els is 65th, so he needs to climb 15 spots to qualify for the Masters. Please, somebody fix the Big Easy's GPS and get him heading toward Augusta.

• The more noise objectors make about the long putter, the more likely we are to see some action by the R&A and U.S. Golf Association, both of which must accept the responsibility of considering the public's voice. Personally, I'm not anti-broomstick, but I'm predicting a 30- to 45-percent chance of legislation by 2015.

• I've always found it weird that some people will laugh at anything Bill Murray does, given that his shtick has barely changed since he first broke it out back in 1749, but I will admit to a chuckle when he hopped into that feathery jumpsuit last Saturday.

• You know who else comes up two clubs short of the green? Anyone over the age of 50 who doesn't think Jerry West is the coolest dude who ever lived. From Mr. Clutch to one of the best general managers in sports history and now tournament director for the Northern Trust Open, pro golf is lucky to have such an icon in its presence. West is a brilliant, fascinating, shamelessly honest man whose recent autobiography, 'West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life,' is a can't-put-it-down read. Unlike the author himself, you won't be disappointed.