– Ti­ger Woods hasn't won a ma­jor title since 2008. By the end of this week's U.S. Open, he will have gone 24 ma­jors with­out a vic­to­ry.

If re­cent his­to­ry is prel­ude, Woods' ab­sence at Pine­hurst No. 2 this week will cause a dip in tel­e­vi­sion rat­ings, proof that casu­al golf fans have con­clud­ed that Woods is the most in­ter­est­ing golf­er in the world even when he's not play­ing well, or of­ten, or at all.

They are en­ti­tled to be wrong, in much the same way that chan­nel- flip­pers are en­ti­tled to waste their time watch­ing the self-pro­mot­ing, play-act­ing red­necks on "Duck Dy­nas­ty."

Phil Mick­el­son is more in­ter­est­ing than Woods in every cate­go­ry of life oth­er than ac­cu­mu­lat­ed ma­jor ti­tles.

Woods be­came a dom­i­nant golf­er, por­trayed him­self as re­lent­less­ly bor­ing, then suc­cumbed to in­ju­ries and scan­dal. His achieve­ments were in­ter­est­ing. His back­ground was in­ter­est­ing. He him­self turned out to be a drone point­ed in the wrong di­rec­tion.

If Woods' life is the back page of a tab­loid, Mick­el­son's is the novel you can't put down.

Nothing Mickelson does is pre­dict­a­ble.

Name an­oth­er golf­er who, af­ter the first round of a promi­nent golf tour­na­ment, had FBI agents wait­ing to ques­tion him about alleged in­sid­er trad­ing. That hap­pened to Phil a few weeks ago at the Memorial. He's not only try­ing to beat Charles Ho­well III, he's try­ing to be­come Thurston Ho­well III.

Name an­oth­er golf­er who would change his put­ter grip two days be­fore com­pet­ing in the only ma­jor he hasn't won. Phil did, de­cid­ing on Tues­day to go with the "claw" grip.

Name an­oth­er golf­er who has played in ma­jors using two driv­ers, or has in­vent­ed his own — his "Phrankenwood" 2-wood.

Name an­oth­er golf­er who is so des­pised with­in the game for alleged pho­ni­ness, but who con­nects so ea­ger­ly with gal­le­ries, signs so many auto­graphs and has nev­er dis­played any­thing but loy­al­ty to his wife and longtime caddie.

Name an­oth­er golf­er with five ma­jor ti­tles who is known not for con­trol or tech­nique, but reck­less­ness. Mick­el­son might be the great­est golf­er in his­to­ry known for ar­gu­ing with his caddie when his caddie tells him to do some­thing sen­si­ble, and whose swing con­tains so many in­ap­pro­pri­ate­ly mov­ing parts.

And here's Mickelson's ca­reer in one range buck­et: Name an­oth­er golf­er who has won five ma­jor ti­tles while be­ing de­fined by his loss­es.

Only five play­ers have com­pleted the mod­ern ca­reer grand slam: Jack Nick­laus, Ti­ger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gene Sa­ra­zen and Gary Play­er. Bobby Jones won it when the fourth ma­jor was the U.S. Amateur, not the PGA Championship.

Mick­el­son is one of 11 golf­ers who has won three of the four ma­jors. The only ma­jor that has elud­ed him is the U.S. Open.

Isn't the quest to quell de­mons more in­ter­est­ing than ro­bot­ic dom­i­nance?

Mick­el­son stood on the 18th tee Sun­day at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in 2006 need­ing only a par to win his first ma­jor. He reached for his driv­er and hit a hos­pi­tal­i­ty tent. Af­ter his double bo­gey, he said, "I am such an id­i­ot."

Isn't Mick­el­son's bared soul pref­er­a­ble to Ti­ger's clenched teeth?

Mick­el­son has fin­ished se­cond a re­cord six times at the U.S. Open. The first time he fin­ished se­cond was in 1999 at Pine­hurst No. 2. He led by a shot with three holes re­main­ing. His caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay, wore a beep­er so he could leave if his preg­nant wife alert­ed him that she was en route to the hos­pi­tal.

Payne Stewart ral­lied to win, then grabbed Mick­el­son's face and told him, "You're going to be a great fa­ther." Four months later, Stewart died in a plane crash.

This week Mick­el­son re­turns to Pine­hurst, and to height­en the dra­ma, he's a mess. He's had phys­ic­al ail­ments and put­ting woes and hasn't fin­ished in the top 10 all year.

Now he's try­ing to do some­thing as im­prob­a­ble as skip­ping a fair­way wood off a lake — some­thing he's tried in com­pe­ti­tion. He's try­ing to fix his game while at the U.S. Open, which prides it­self on be­ing golf's stern­est test of pa­tience.

"I've done some crazy stuff," Mick­el­son said. "One of the dumb­est things I've done, which ac­tu­al­ly nev­er came back to bite me, was in the 2002 U.S. Open at Beth­page. I changed irons af­ter the first round, to dif­fer­ent lofts …

"But you know you've got to take some risks some­times. I've won ma­jors with two driv­ers, with one driv­er, and with no driv­ers. I've also lost some tour­na­ments be­cause of this. I'm fine with deal­ing with my own bad de­ci­sions."

Ti­ger re­mains the great­est golf­er of his gen­er­a­tion.

I'd rath­er watch the guy who could eith­er make his­to­ry, or call him­self an id­i­ot.