An Instant Classic


Monday was the day after golfs latest, and perhaps its greatest, instant classic. Certainly when the subject is non-major championships, Woods vs. Mickelson on Sunday at The Ford Championship at Doral was nonpareil and wont be forgotten by anyone who saw it anytime soon.

So Monday was also the day to pause and reflect upon a few of the things that emerged from the high-tension, high wire final round act where the events swirled around wildly like a gathering maelstrom inside the vortex of drama and electricity created by Woods one-shot victory over Mickelson.

How about Vijay Singh? All the worlds No. 1 player did was post four rounds in the 60s. Still, he lost his spot atop the Official World Golf Rankings to Woods, golfs once and future king.

How about this stat? Through 72 holes, Woods hit 26 fairways, Mickelson hit 25. Woods hit 55 greens in regulation, Mickelson hit 54. Woods needed 106 putts, Mickelson needed 105. That latter number would have been reduced if Mickelsons exquisite chip from the back of the green on the 72nd hole hadnt lipped cruelly out of the cup at the last possible instant.

It was right in the heart, Mickelson said in his post-match press conference. I just hope I get another shot at Tiger.

Dont we all.

Yes, the stars have come out this year in golf. Annika Sorenstam was back in her familiar position--the winners circle--Sunday on the LPGA in Mexico. Ernie Els sent a postcard from the edge from Dubai to the boys in Florida when he eagled the 72nd hole to win there.

The thing that made it special, said Woods of the duel at Doral, is that we both played well.

Indeed, neither he nor Mickelson made a bogey until the short, par-4 16th. Both carded 5s. On the par-5 eighth hole Mickelson drove it 319 yards in the fairway and, according to Shotlink, Tiger knocked it 44 yards past him. Both made birdie.

Yes, golf has a Big Five at the moment. In order, it is Woods, Singh, Els, Mickelson, and Retief Goosen, whose 64 was the low round Sunday at Doral.

And golf, thanks to Sunday, is back on the front page, above the fold, in every sports section of every newspaper in America.

Its time again to remind ourselves how fortunate we all are that our sport doesnt have steroid controversies or labor negotiation stalls.

Sunday in Florida we had Woods vs. Mickelson going head-to-head, toe-to-toe, hammer and tong and sturm und drang.

Clichs rolled off the tongue like Titleists off a stimpmeter: It was as good as it gets. It was what its all about.

And it made us all hope and beg for more.

The Players Championship is later this month. The Masters is two weeks after that.

Let the hype begin.
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