Three seconds are all it takes to make a fan's day, to enlist her to the cause, to make him a devotee. Three seconds for the dutiful Phil Mickelson to sign a hat on Sunday. Three seconds to reach out, as Rory McIlroy did recently, and put a golf ball in the hand of a boy whose face lights up as if he's just high-fived Iron Man.
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Three seconds matter in an era when many sports are haemorrhaging fans and athletes hide too long behind the polished armour of fame. If they emerge from their private planes and hotel suites and from behind bodyguards and dark glasses, all it takes is three seconds to seal a bond between fan and athlete. There it is, on paper, in writing. The autograph.

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