Woods-Mickelson Rivalry at a Crossroads

By Associated PressMarch 8, 2005, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)The showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at Doral captured the largest television audience for a golf tournament since the U.S. Open.

It included a certain Ryder Cup captain who only recognized the faces.

'I watched it from start to finish,' Hal Sutton said Tuesday. 'What part of my body wouldn't say, 'Where was this in September?' We all knew both were capable of that. I don't know why they didn't do it together.'

Six months ago at Oakland Hills was the only time Woods and Mickelson were partners, not rivals, although it was hard to tell the difference. They stood some 20 yards apart on the first tee for the opening game at the Ryder Cup and kept their distance while losing their first two matches.

As rivals at Doral, they were brilliant.

Both made 27 birdies over four rounds on the Blue Monster.

Woods took the lead with an eagle on the 603-yard 12th hole when he hit a 3-wood that carried 290 yards. Mickelson fired back with back-to-back birdies, starting with a 3-iron from 242 yards to within 8 feet. Back and forth they went before a delirious and evenly divided gallery.

Both players deny their relationship is icy at best. Mickelson said the partnership at Oakland Hills was 'not uncomfortable at all,' but it might have looked that way because they played poorly. Woods said it their relationship was overanalyzed. Johnny Miller finally chimed in, 'It'd be great if these guys answered the questions.'

They certainly can answer some questions in the next month.

This renewed rivalry is at a crossroads heading into the first major championship of the year.

Mickelson was so sure he was going to win that some might wonder how much the loss takes out of him. He all but deified Woods on the eve of the final round, then got a gleam in his eye as he talked about how much he was looking forward to taking him on.

As well as Mickelson played, the difference at Doral came down to him missing short putts down the stretch, something that has haunted him throughout his career. He called the loss a 'great slap in the face,' and said it would only make him work harder for their next battle, the sooner the better.

What to make of Woods?

The big picture is that he shot 63-66 to rally from five shots down against the hottest player in golf. Woods still hits shots no one else can. He was 44 yards longer than Mickelson on one tee shot, and Woods was a combined 330 yards longer than Mickelson on every tee shot but the par 3s.

He made clutch putts, as always, none bigger than the 30-foot birdie that gave him the lead on the 17th.

Still, Woods has not exactly slammed the door in his last two victories.

Last month at Torrey Pines, he boldly went for the par-5 18th green with only a one-shot lead, fanned a 2-iron and was fortunate it didn't go in the water. At Doral, with a chance to apply enormous pressure, Woods came out of a 7-iron and left himself a downhill putt from 55 feet.

There are times when Woods takes a half-dozen repeated practice swings on the tee, still trying to drill into his mind the mechanics of his new swing.

Woods has had a revolving door of rivals for the last six years, although this one is unrivaled.

Vijay Singh has performed better as a rival. He is the only player who has approached Woods' dominance in the last 10 years, and he took the No. 1 ranking away from him in a head-to-head battle outside Boston last year. Woods and Singh aren't chums, but the big Fijian is not a threat to take away Woods' adulation from the fans.

Mickelson is.

Ernie Els and Woods make the most natural rivalry. The Big Easy has finished second to Woods six times, more than any other player, and eight of his 15 victories on the PGA Tour have come with Woods in the field. But it is difficult for Woods to work up any animosity inside the ropes because Els is universally liked and respected.

That's not the case with Mickelson.

Woods' emotions at Doral spoke volumes about this rivalry. While it was a dramatic duel, there was one even better five years ago at Kapalua, where Woods and Els were Nos. 1 and 2 in the world and tied for the lead going into the final round of the Mercedes Championships.

The lead changed seven times, and no one ever led by more than one shot. Both made an eagle on the last hole to force a playoff. Both made birdie on the 18th to extend it. Woods finally won with a 40-foot birdie putt that had 6 feet of break, then he watched as Els' birdie putt from 35 feet stopped an inch short of the cup.

Woods was thrilled that afternoon on Maui.

He was relieved Sunday in Miami.

There was an uppercut fist pump when Woods made the eagle on No. 12. He pursed his lips and firmly squeezed the bill of his cap to acknowledge the masses as he walked briskly off the 17th green with a one-shot lead.

When Mickelson's 30-foot chip for birdie dipped in and out of the cup on the 18th, his reaction contained as much raw emotion as his 13-inch vertical leap when he captured the Masters.

Clearly, this was a battle both players desperately wanted to win.

How they respond could shape the season.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.