Tiger versus Phil

By Rex HoggardApril 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
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AUGUSTA , Ga. ' Jack had Arnie who begat Tom. The Red Sox have the Yankees. Nadal has Federer. Britney had Kevin.
 
It is the way of life, every alpha hurtling head-long toward its omega, the inevitable clashes completing the circle. But life, at least not the version that is played between the ropes on Sunday at major championships, doesnt follow a Star Wars script. At least not yet.
 
As much as we pine for a Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson title bout this Sunday at Augusta National, the odds and history ' and every bookmaker with an ounce of common sense ' have another plan.
2008 US Open
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson walk on the first green during the first round of the 2008 U.S. Open. (Getty Images)

Still more than 24 hours from the opening tee ball at the Masters and the rivalry talk has already reached a crescendo. And why shouldnt it?
 
Woods looks as imposing on two good legs as he did on one the last time he made a Grand Slam cameo nearly 10 months ago at Torrey Pines. Along the way he added a pair of respectable rehab starts in Tucson and Doral and another walk-off at Bay Hill to prove a point.
 
Mickelson has been just as brilliant, if not his signature combustible, in his two victories that included a Doral finish that was as much a testament to his determination as it was to modern medicine.
 
But its a collision course only if the waters contain just two ships.
 
We may covet the great Tiger-Lefty Sunday shootout, but the odds are probably better for a Van Halen reunion tour.
 
Its happened twice in a major, which, for the sake of historical arguments, is the only litmus test that counts. At the 1997 PGA Championship, both shot 75, both tied for 29th. Hardly the stuff of legend. At the 2001 Masters, Woods started with a one-shot lead on Mickelson and won the tournament, with Mickelson finishing three shots behind.
 
Theyve shared space on the same major leaderboard on Sunday, most notably at the 2006 Masters and 05 PGA Championship, but never nose-to-nose. Thats when it counts because that is when history is made.
 
I would love to be in the same group as him, if we are in the final group, Mickelson smiled. I dont want to be third off.
 
Woods, ever the pragmatist, is less concerned with a rival than he is results. Truth is he doesnt even rank Mickelson his primary rival over the years.
 
I would say the person Ive gone head-to-head with the most is Ernie (Els), Woods said.
 
Woods comment wasnt intended as a slight, only fact. As much as the machine would savor a Woods-Mickelson duel, to use a Georgia axiom, that dog just doesnt hunt.
 
Its nobodys fault, just the nature of a game that is played between the ears and between the gallery ropes, not nose to nose.
 
It is not like tennis where you have constant head-to-head matches, Mickelson said. You are always playing against the course and playing stroke play. Its funny how at the Match Play you feel a little bit more . . . confrontational.
 
There it is, you want a top card that features Ali and Frazier you convert every Grand Slam event to match play and relegate the 142 other odd professionals to the B flight. But thats not going to happen, nor should it.
 
In some ways history clouds the idea, if not the practice, of a great rivalry. We rehash the legendary rivalries of the past all the while ignoring the accomplishments of the players who were not among the Big Three.
 
We had a great group of guys, eight or 10, who no matter what tournament you played you knew you had to play great golf to win, Greg Norman said. What I see now is not eight or 10 guys, but two or three that you have to beat.
 
If history is any guideline, there simply isnt enough mojo in the cosmic tumblers to suggest a 1 vs. 2 Sunday finish is in the making.
 
Thats not to say a Woods-Mickelson Sunday duel wouldnt be the defining moment for both players careers, but not because they are currently ranked atop the World Golf Ranking.
 
No, a mano-e-mano bout would resonate because of what both players represent ' Woods, the tactician with the extra gear, against Mickelson, whose creativity and natural ability is sometimes overshadowed by an over-aggressive impulse.
 
Phil can come with 72 holes of the most unbelievable golf anyone in the world can play. When hes on, hes on, said Geoff Ogilvy, one of the most insightful players in the game. He can have periods where hes unbelievable, but he can also have periods where hes completely off the map. With Tiger, the intimidation is you know that its going to happen. You know hes going to play well.
 
Perhaps therein lies our desire for a true showdown. Right brain takes on left brain in an ultimate psychological clash. Its not a collision of the worlds best so much as it is the battle within. We all have a little Woods and Mickelson tucked neatly inside our psyche. Seeing it in action on HDTV with the most manicured 18 holes in the game as a backdrop would simply be the masterpiece of a generation.
 
Chances are Woods vs. Mickelson is not going to happen, and maybe thats OK. But it would be something.
 
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  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."