Tiger vs Phil Coming Soon

By Brian HewittFebruary 12, 2007, 5:00 pm
First things first: The duel Id most like to see in golf at the moment is Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson.
 
Tiger has won seven straight PGA TOUR events. Phil spread-eagled the field and the golf course Sunday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson now has 30 career PGA TOUR victories. (WireImage)
And heres the cool part about IT. Woods vs. Mickelson could happen, head-to-head, as early as next week at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship near Tucson.
 
By virtue of his five-shot victory over the field down on the Monterey Peninsula Mickelson moved back up to No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking. That means Mickelson and No. 1 Woods can not meet any earlier than the semi-finals.
 
But they can meet. We in the media are not supposed to root for players. Were supposed to just root for the story. Im rooting for Tiger vs. Phil. Thats the best story right now.
 
The golf course, by the way, is NOT La Costa, where Woods won in 2003 and 2004. This year its near Tucson at the South Course at The Gallery at Dove Mountain, which can be stretched to 7,356 yards from the back tees.
 
Yes, yes theres a pretty good little event coming up this week at Riviera. And it almost always offers terrific theater in an historic setting. But this year, at least, it will have to serve as the warm-up act for Tigers quest for No. 8 and Phils hoped-for challenge.
 
Mickelson is now officially warmed up for 2007. In his first three events of the year he alternately struggled with distance control on the short irons and then, last week at the FBR Open, with his putting.
 
His swing coach, Rick Smith, believed Mickelson was closer than it appeared to returning to top form. I just hope, Smith told me, Phil doesnt lose patience.
 
Dave Pelz, Mickelsons short-game advisor, got with Phil at Pebble last week and the results were immediate. Mickelson started getting his putts tracking on line and the results were 31 one-putts in 72 holes. On Sunday at Pebble alone, Mickelson birdied nine of, arguably, the most photogenic 18 golf holes in the world.
 
When Mickelson melted down on the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open last June at Winged Foot, his problems stemmed from bad driving. At Pebble Beach in mid-weekend Mickelson said, Im honestly driving the ball the best Ive ever driven it.
 
Which makes it easier to forget how trying the format at the AT&T can sometimes be. Jim Furyk, ranked No. 2 in the world, was tied for the lead after 36 holes. Then the weather turned for the worse Saturday and his round lasted six hours and 40 minutes. I dont care if the sun is shining, Furyk said after a tortuous 76. You could shoot me.
 
Even comedian Bill Murray was somewhat subdued much of a week in which the spotlight belonged mainly to Mickelson. Murrays best moment? Probably Saturday at Pebble Beach when he surprised a woman outside the ropes by stealing a kiss. On the lips.
 
Murray missed his next putt and blamed the woman. Shes too hot, Murray said, massaging his mouth. I got second degree burns.
 
Kevin Sutherland, who won the Match Play at La Costa in 2002, birdied the 72nd hole to edge rookie John Mallinger by a stroke for sole second place. Mallinger, meanwhile, hung in all four days and finished third ahead of Davis Love III and Greg Owen. Furyk tied Corey Pavin for sixth.
 
And, no, it didnt have to be You. But it was. Mickelson and amateur partner Harry You, the CEO of consulting firm Bearing Point, won the pro-am portion of the event.
 
You is a Harvard grad. Mallinger is graduate of the 2006 Q-school (all three stages) who shows terrific promise. I took some (good) stuff this week, Mallinger said. And, hopefully, Im going to grow on that.
 
Pavin managed to stay bogey free for the last 38 holes of the tournament. The 1995 U.S. Open champion is still a master of shaping his golf ball and controlling its trajectory. The fact that Pebble Beach measures a relatively short 6,816 yards works in the diminutive Pavins favor as well.
 
Mickelson has now won 30 PGA TOUR events which ties him for 16th all-time in that category with Leo Diegel and Vijay Singh. Singh, by the way, now leads the nascent FedExCup points race.
 
The rust is officially off now for Lefty, who will make it five straight weeks in the field at Riviera and six at the Match Play.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry