Different personalities, different results for Tiger, Phil

By Jason SobelJuly 24, 2013, 12:00 pm

This breaking story just in to the GolfChannel.com news desk: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson … aren’t very similar.

Somebody needs to send that scoop over to the Pulitzer committee, pronto.

After years of investigative reporting, we’ve uncovered a few noteworthy facts.

Tiger walks the course like he’s stalking prey. Phil walks the course like he’s in a Homecoming parade.

Tiger celebrates good shots with a fiery, solitary fist pump. Phil celebrates good shots by fist-bumping everybody within arm’s reach.

Tiger reacts to bad shots with a scowl and something that sounds like, “&%#@%$!!!” Phil reacts to bad shots with a smile and something that sounds like, “Golly gee!!!”

The purpose of this exercise isn’t to debate which player goes about his business in a “better” manner. There’s more than one way to skin a cat – or capture a skin.

No, the reason for pointing out their personality differences is to prove how those personality differences can actually affect their on-course results.

Photos: Tiger Woods through the years

Photos: Phil Mickelson through the years

Of Woods’ 14 career major championship victories, every single one of ‘em has come when he held or shared the lead entering the final round. (Again, more exhaustive investigative research to find that one.)

Tiger has thrived – or did thrive, at least, back when he was winning majors – on picking a target number prior to teeing it up in the final round, then hitting that target, letting his fellow contenders flail by the wayside like fish trying to climb a tree. Or simply providing a timely stiff arm to any close pursuant not named Y.E. Yang.

He’s been called the Mariano Rivera of professional golfers, but even that is a minimal insult; Woods’ 14-of-15 mark is four percentage points higher than the Yankees closer’s career save-conversion rate.

Of course, what that number also means is that adversely Woods has compiled an 0-for-54 major championship record when failing to lead after 54 holes. That’s more than just a trend. It’s a way of life.

Last year at Royal Lytham, he entered the final round five shots back and finished third; the winner came from six back. This past week at Muirfield, he entered the final round two shots back and finished sixth; the winner came from five back.

All of which leads to the inevitable question: If other players can produce victorious Sunday afternoon rallies, why can’t the guy with more talent than anyone else?

Perhaps it’s just a matter of time before Woods embraces that come-from-behind role, but for now his antipathy toward having to look over his shoulder – both literally and figuratively – reeks of a player who is one-dimensional when it comes to such moments.

On Sunday, when he started the Open Championship final round two strokes off the lead, then saw that differential gradually grow to three and four and five, Woods continually failed to play aggressively. “I had a hard time adjusting to the [green] speeds,” he explained after a round of 74. “I don’t think I got too many putts to the hole today.”

Even the most casual of recreational golfers has heard the term, “Never up, never in.” (Or saddled themselves with the self-effacing, “Hit the ball, Alice.”) Hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” a notion which can easily be applied to aggressive putting, especially when trailing late in a major championship.

While Tiger remains the greatest closer of all-time, it’s become abundantly clear that he’s attempting to employ the same strategy when trailing: Play steady golf and let the other contenders make the mistakes.

It’s also become abundantly clear that such a blueprint is inherently flawed.

That brings us back to Mickelson, whose yin zealously repels Woods’ yang. (No, not Y.E. again.)

The mercurial lefthander plays golf like a death row inmate eats lunch. He’s been called a riverboat gambler on the course, but that analogy is a slap in the face to all riverboat gamblers who don’t push the chips all-in every hand.

Despite winning three of his five major titles after holding the 54-hole lead, Mickelson never has been – nor ever will be – a closer of Woods’ caliber. Exhibit A for this belief occurred just last month, when he held the overnight advantage at the U.S. Open, then three times on Sunday claimed it back at Merion, only to lose it each time.

It doesn’t take the staunchest Mickelphile to recall in cringing detail the man’s daunting decision to hit driver with a one-stroke lead on the final hole at Winged Foot back in 2006, even after a day filled with wayward drives. And what happened? The ball found a hospitality tent and its owner posted double bogey to lose by a stroke.

Phil doesn’t have the stiff-arm capability of Tiger. He wasn’t born with the governor that keeps him from trying things, even when the best play is the safe play.

That not only explains his recent U.S. Open “heartbreaker,” as he called it, but his Open Championship victory, too.

Faced with a five-shot deficit entering the final round, the situation fit Mickelson’s personality perfectly. He could play aggressively knowing there was nothing to lose. If aggressive golf resulted in a 78, so be it, he’d just fall further down the leaderboard; if it resulted in 66, though, he’d likely add a claret jug to his collection. And that’s exactly what happened.

“I’ve always tried to go out and get it,” he said afterward. “I don’t want anybody to hand it to me; I want to go out and get it. And today I did.”

Those are words you sometimes wish Woods would utter when he’s playing from off the lead, just as Woods’ well-known declarations about retaining first place would seep through like osmosis for Mickelson.

But they don’t. Because it’s not part of their respective personalities.

Phil and Tiger are the two most heralded golfers of this generation, but they’re unique individuals, as different in personality as two men can be while successfully competing at the same craft. That’s not just a footnote or discussion topic for the tabloids, either. It wholly explains why each has been so proficient at finding success in completely opposite scenarios.

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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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.