Probably the last thing a sports hero would want to see in a story about himself is the acronym FBI.

Not much better would be SEC.

"Honestly, I've done nothing wrong," golfer Phil Mickelson said late last week after both showed up prominently in a story that included his name.

As you no doubt know by now, the Wall Street Journal reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission were looking into whether Mickelson and William T. Walters, identified in news accounts as a "high-rolling gambler and golf course owner," might have been involved in insider-trading.

Also mentioned was investor Carl Icahn.

Stock trading is a tricky business and a serious winning streak can raise red flags. Apparently financial regulators detected a few of those flags a while back and Mickelson's name was mentioned.

"Phil is not the target of any investigation," attorney Glenn Cohen told the Journal.

Mickelson is one of the most popular players on the PGA Tour, a big guy who hits from the wrong side — left-handed — and who plods around the course like a farmer trailing a couple of mules.

He's a Hall of Famer but he's known for adventuresome rounds almost as much as his great skill at golf. At crucial points in big matches, Lefty's shots are about as likely to rattle the cart shed as they are to land in the fairway. At least it seems that way.

He also happens to be one of Arizona's most loved professional athletes. Lefty attended Arizona State University and was still an amateur when he won the Tucson Northern Telecom Open in 1991. He turned pro in 1992 and four years later won four tournaments, including the NEC World Series of Golf.

Although it's a very small field, Mickelson is easily Tucson's favorite Sun Devil. Tucson, of course, is the home of ASU's most hated rival, the University of Arizona.

Phil's engaging personality and the millions of dollars he has helped raise for charity — plus the fact that despite his stature on the tour he's a favorite of the everyday hacker — make him the second most popular player in the PGA.

Nobody will challenge Tiger Woods' popularity as long as he plays the game, but Mickelson is the favorite among the blue-collar crowd.

Those of us who love the game, and particularly those of us who bat from the wrong side, hope Phil, a three-time Masters Tournament champion among other things, has not been involved in any hanky-panky.

He has been one of the good guys on the tour since he joined out of college, and he's been a good role model for young people.

Mickelson told reporters over the weekend that he'd been contacted by FBI agents during The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. In the press room after his round, Mickelson was his usual upbeat, humorous self. He said he'd cooperated fully with the FBI "and I'm happy to do so in the future, until this gets resolved. But for right now, I really can't talk much about it."

Then he went outside the interview room to a large group of fans and autographed programs, baseball caps, oversized golf balls and whatever was handed to him.

His attitude during this strange, unsettling interlude has been positive.

Those of us who admire Lefty hope the conclusion of the FBI and SEC investigation are as positive for him and his fans.

 Corky Simpson's column appears on Wednesdays.


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