The Major Difference Between Tiger and Phil

By John FeinsteinApril 6, 2011, 8:55 pm

AUGUTSA, Ga. – The news conferences held prior to the start of a major championship are usually a waste of time. This week at The Masters has been no exception. Everyone parades through the interview room, accompanied by a club member who drones about how wonderful it is to have each player at the tournament.

The players are all equally thrilled to be there – and can’t wait to not be there anymore. The same is true Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who both understand that they have to go through the ritual but would rather make a trip to a local Augusta dentist.

They were both there on Tuesday, smiling so that no one could see their teeth grinding. Both have always tried to play down the tension that has always existed between them – some of it competitive but a lot of it based on how different they are. An answer that each gave on Tuesday unintentionally opened a window into those differences.
Mickelson, as the defending champion and someone who has won three of his four majors at Augusta National, was asked what it means to come back here each spring.

“When I drive down Magnolia Lane, I get re-energized with the game of golf,” he said. “You know I’ve played since I was a year-and-a-half old. I’m 40, so 38-and-a-half years I’m playing this game. But when I come here it reminds me of that.

“I could easily forget week in and week out playing the PGA Tour how lucky I am to play the game. When I come back to Augusta National I just remember how much I loved it as a kid, dreamed of playing the Tour, dreamed of playing in the Masters and winning this tournament and being a part of it. All of the feelings come back when I drive down Magnolia Lane. It just reinvigorates my passion for the game.”

You can almost hear the syrupy music can’t you?
Not long after Mickelson departed, Woods showed up, giving all his usual Tiger-speak answers, ducking anything remotely personal while going on about the ‘process,’ of his latest swing change. His most honest answer may have come when someone asked him about Mickelson’s musing about Magnolia Lane.

“For me it’s not quite driving down Magnolia Lane that does it,” he said. “It’s getting out here on the range and getting to the first tee or walking under the tree and going to the first tee. That to me, and looking out at the golf course, that’s what really gets me fired up.

“Driving down Magnolia Lane is just looking at some trees really. The golf course is where I do my work and to me that’s what is exciting to me. I love walking into that clubhouse and going straight into the golf course. I’m excited just thinking about going out there because that to me is the rush, is getting out there and playing the golf course.”

One guy drives down Magnolia Lane and feels the history of the game, gets chills and teary-eyed. The other guys sees a bunch of trees and can’t wait to get to the end of the road and get to work.

That’s always been a major difference between the two men: Mickelson savors victories and moments; Woods puts them in the rear view mirror almost as soon as they happen.

That has been a part of Woods’ greatness. Nothing is enough for him. When he won the U.S. Open by 15 shots his first comment to USGA president Trey Holland was about a ruling Holland didn’t give him early in the final round. When he won his first Masters by 12 shots someone asked him if it was possible for him to ever play better – even though he was only 21 – in a major. His answer was short and sweet: “I did shoot 40 the first nine holes.”

There’s no question that approach, the notion that driving up Magnolia Lane is something you do on your way to work, has helped make Woods the champion that he has been and may be again. It has also made him a remarkably unhappy person even in what should be moments of great joy.

Win the Masters, start getting ready for the U.S. Open. Win a Tiger Slam, set your focus on a Grand Slam. Break Nicklaus’s record some day, put the new record so far out there that no one can challenge it. That’s who he is.

Mickelson embraces every moment of joy. Perhaps if he didn’t sleep in the green jacket after winning the Masters or begin grinding for the next major five minutes after the end of the last one he would have more than four major titles. Perhaps not.

Mickelson has enjoyed his victories a lot more than Woods has enjoyed his victories. Woods sees winning golf tournaments as a means to an end. Mickelson sees winning golf tournaments as a means to start a celebration.

It isn’t that one way is right or one way is wrong. They are simply very different. One man gets teary-eyed with joy when he sees all those trees on Magnolia Lane. The other only gets teary-eyed if his allergies kick in.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm