Phil and Tiger Once Again

“Hooks and Slices” will bring you our view on whats happening in the golf world.

Phil Mickelson did his best Tiger Woods imitation yesterday to hang on and win the WGC CA Championship. Phil bounced back from a case of dehydration on Saturday night, to play well enough to outlast Nick Watney and beat him by one stroke. Granted, it was not a broken leg and this was not the U.S. Open, but Mickelson hung in there in what amounted to a match play duel against Watney.

This is Mickelson’s second win of the season and shows that the work he and Butch Harmon have been doing has finally paid off. He has moved into second place in the World Rankings once again. Phil is in a good position to contend at his favorite tournament, the Masters, next month.

Tiger Woods played much better and tied for ninth place. His tee to green game looked fine but he struggled on the greens all week. If he can find his putting stroke before the Masters, it could be showdown between Phil and Tiger at Augusta.

This is great for golf. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are once again positioned to re-ignite a rivalry that had grown dormant.

Tiger has been the number one player in the World Rankings for 197 straight weeks. He has had many different challengers, but none with such an attention grabbing interest as Phil Mickelson. The Phil and Tiger rivalry can be one of the driving forces in golf today. When the two of them are in contention in a tournament, it makes that tournament all the more interesting and takes it to a higher level. Tiger and Phil have been rivals for years, but Phil has had a hard time keeping up with Woods. Woods has won more majors and more tournaments, but Mickelson remains a crowd favorite. While Woods is so focused on the course it appears he barely notices the galleries, Mickelson can’t help but to smile and talk to the fans that call out to him. As Woods walks from hole to hole he looks dour and solemn. Mickelson smiles and waves and acknowledges the fans on every hole. He must carry two dozen balls in his bag because he usually tosses a ball to the crowd after a good hole. Tiger is the best golfer in the world. Phil is the best liked golfer in the world. That is part of their rivalry.

When Phil won back to back majors, the 2005 PGA and 2006 Masters, he appeared to be on the verge of truly challenging Woods for his crown. Then Mickelson had the meltdown at the 2006 U.S. Open and the rivalry faded. Since then Woods has won four more majors and Mickelson has won none.

These two golfers respect each other’s golf game but do not get along well and are only courteous to each other, not friendly. They are not friends and it was very obvious when Hal Sutton paired them together in the 2004 Ryder Cup. They barely spoke to each other and played poorly enough to have that move labeled the biggest blunder in Ryder Cup history.

These are the things needed to make a rivalry great; two exceptionally talented players going head to head over and over trying to take each other down. Both players are focused on the Masters. If Woods continues to shake off the rust like he did this week and Phil keeps it going, the Masters could be the scene of the rivalry reborn.


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