by Jeff Skinner
It seemed fitting that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson shared the spotlight on the eighteenth green at The Tour Championship. Tiger and Phil stood side by side, Phil with the Tour Championship Trophy and Tiger with The FedEx Cup. They are the two most skilled and popular golfers in the United States and their spotlight sharing could be seen as a vindication of The FedEx Cup Playoff system. The tour finished its regular season with the two biggest stars on the roster. The Playoffs gave us exciting tournaments and Tim Finchem must be thrilled that Woods and Mickelson headlined on the final day.
At the beginning of the season there was hope that that Phil and Tiger would go head to head often enough to make it a real rivalry, but Tiger’s knee was a big question mark. Woods played sparingly to start but was winning by his third start. Phil won in his fourth start on tour and then the two met at The Masters. In a Sunday showdown that paired the two together, they captivated the fans as they traded shots and stole the show from the winner until they faded at the end. But the stage had been set, our appetite whetted, we were ready for an entire season of Tiger and Phil, head to head. And then real life intervened. What’s that line, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making plans.” Life happened to Phil. He was off the Tour to tend to his wife and family as she and his mother received treatment for cancer. Golf was put on the shelf for awhile.
Woods continued to get stronger and healthier and seemed to win each time he played. He had six wins and two seconds coming into the Tour Championship but Woods did not have a win in the majors. As much as Tiger says he is content with his season the fact that he did not win a major still eats at him. He says so right after he holed his last putt at The Tour Championship. Tiger’s interview.
The fact that Phil could contend on Sunday was a miracle in itself. Remember on Thursday afternoon when he ping-ponged the ball back and forth across the fourteenth green on his way to an eight on the hole. His tournament could have been over with there, but he persevered and started to make some putts and shot 67, 66 and 65 on Sunday to win; not too shabby for a part time golfer. Afterward Phil spoke of all the help he gets from his team of Butch Harmon, Dave Pelz and newly recruited Dave Stockton. He was quick to share the victory with team of coaches. He also said that all the distractions at home had no effect on his focus on golf. It’s just like Phil not to make any excuses. Phil’s interview.
Both players said they were looking forward to The Presidents Cup and really ready for some down time with their families. They both stated that they have plenty to build on for next year and look forward to starting next year utilizing all they have learned from this year. With Tiger fully healed and Phil’s family in recovery we can’t wait for the two of them to start it all over again.