There must be plenty of tired golf fans out there this morning. If you’re golf fan then you probably made an effort to watch the final round of the HSBC-Champions which aired on The Golf Channel at 10:00pm Eastern Standard Time. Any self respecting, golf fan wouldn’t miss the showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. With Tiger only two strokes back of Phil it was sure to be the head to head match all of us love to see. It didn’t matter that we would have to stay up into the wee hours of the morning to watch it; this was going to be a dramatic finish with our two favorite golfers.
Unfortunately, Tiger forgot to bring his A game and the potential for the showdown went unfulfilled. Tiger opened with a 39 on the front and shot himself out of the tournament right then. He was uncharacteristically missing putts and even got a few balls wet. His frustration with the Chinese crowds showed as he was disturbed by cameras clicking early in his round. The best he could manage was a round of par which was not nearly good enough.
Phil Mickelson started off missing some putts himself but that seemed to be the rule of the day. It may have been the unfamiliar greens because no one was immune from missing short putts. All the contenders missed their share of makeable putts. Phil was able to right the ship and shoot a three under 69 that kept him one stroke clear of second place finisher, Ernie Els. Els played well enough to get a share of the lead when he birdied fourteen to tie Mickelson at fifteen under. He moved into the solo lead with a bird on seventeen but blew his chance when he chunked his approach on eighteen into the water. Ernie and Rory McIlroy had the rounds of the day with 63’s, but Mickelson’s birdie on seventeen gave him a one stroke lead which he maintained with a two putt par on eighteen.
This is the second consecutive tournament where Phil and Tiger played head to head and Phil has won. At The Tour Championship, Phil beat Tiger to win the tournament but the pain of losing to Phil was softened by Tiger’s winning The FedEx Cup and a ten million dollar check. There is no such consolation prize this week. Could this be the resurrection of the Tiger and Phil rivalry? Maybe it should be called the Phil and Tiger rivalry, after all Phil has beaten Tiger two straight. That can’t be sitting to well in Tiger’s camp.
Tiger is always gracious and says he enjoys the competition when he is challenged. Up until now he has always been the top dog, the one everyone else has been chasing. But with Y E Yang’s victory over Woods at The PGA and Phil’s recent dominance of Tiger the tide may be turning. The rivalry will have to be put on hold until next season and we can’t wait.