I WAS reading the results of a survey the other day about decreasing attention spans. At least, I think it was about decreasing attention spans. To be honest, my mind had started to meander off halfway through the word ‘decreasing’. Anyway, the study suggested that 47 per cent of people believe that 'deep thinking' has become a thing of the past.

Those of you who loyally read this page, of course, will possibly disagree with that particular section of society. Trying to follow the general thread of the weekly column, for instance, forces you into a cocoon of concentration and sober contemplation.

As for the man who writes the thing? Well, the likeness to Auguste Rodin’s sculpted creation, The Thinker, is uncanny as I sit in the scuddy gazing at a blank Word document on the laptop, my chin resting on one hand while wrestling with a powerful internal struggle. “Can you at least put some clothes on?” gasped a startled sports editor. It’s a vision that doesn’t bear thinking about.

As far as this week’s US PGA Championship at Southern Hills is concerned, meanwhile, there’s plenty of food for thought.

Tiger Woods is back in action again after the exertions of his comeback at April’s Masters. He’ll probably commandeer about 99 per cent of the coverage in the build up to the second men’s major of the season. What’s left will possibly be gobbled up by a man who’s not even playing. Phil Mickelson’s confirmation over the weekend that he wouldn’t be defending the title he won in such heroic fashion a year ago sent a few more shockwaves through a game that’s generated so many rumblings recently, the seismometer has pinged itself off the chart.

Mickelson, of course, has been responsible for plenty of this boisterous activity. He has not played competitively since his incendiary remarks back in February when he said we was willing to overlook Saudi Arabia’s grisly human rights record in his attempts to leverage the Kingdom’s vast investment into golf against the PGA Tour.

His support for a proposed breakaway tour, fronted by Greg Norman, led to Mickelson being lambasted by his peers with Rory McIlroy calling his initial comments “naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant”. Lefty became something of a pariah as he backed away from the spotlight with all the finesse of a man reversing a forklift truck into 100 crates of eggs.

It was all so different 12 months ago wasn’t it? At a nifty 50,  Mickelson became the oldest major champion in history with his thrilling US PGA triumph at Kiawah Island. It was his sixth victory in a grand slam event and his most improbable. In the circumstances, it was his greatest too as he made a mockery of the notion – one backed up by results – that he was slithering into competitive irrelevance on the main tour.

The jubilant pandemonium and sea of whooping, hollering humanity up the 18th was a sight to behold as Mickelson delivered a series of cheery thumbs-up that would’ve given The Fonz a repetitive strain injury while regularly erupting into that trademark goofy grin.

It was another of golf’s great days and a timely tonic for the status quo during a period of growing tumult that, a year down the line, is threatening to drag the game through the courts.

The proposed Saudi-bankrolled Super League was the talk of the steamie last May but, watching Mickelson hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy, you thought that money can buy you many things but it can’t buy the history, prestige and greatness that comes with major championship glory.

For Mickelson, it was another magical, momentous moment that defines a career. A year on, though, he seems content to fling that exalted status in the bin and accept the easy money in the Saudi pot. Mickelson has entered Norman’s LIV Golf Invitational Series opener in Hemel Hempstead next month even though the PGA Tour bosses refused to grant releases to any player having stated it would be a violation of their regulations.

Despite his admission that the Saudis were “scary mother****ers” to deal with, those behind the LIV Golf push for global golfing reform remain so desperate for players with stature and box-office appeal, they will still welcome Mickelson with open arms and an open chequebook should he return.

None of us know for certain, though, where or when Mickelson will re-emerge. Back in February, he said he was taking time away to “work on being the man I want to be” while he also confessed that the pressures of a sporting life in the spotlight had been “slowly affecting me at a deeper level.”

Nobody would take pleasure in the admission of those deeper issues, whatever they may be. Sympathy, though, has hardly been rampant for a man who was plotting an insurrection of the PGA Tour before disappearing from the scene amid great hubris and humiliation.

Woods, meanwhile, is due in front of the media today and his views on Mickelson’s trials and tribulations – as well as his own fitness - will be intriguing.

Woods knows a thing or two about suffering a spectacular fall from grace. Here in 2022, he’s revered like never before. Perhaps his old foe Mickelson will find redemption one of these days too?