In their first appearances since the Masters Tournament, who will fare better this week at the Quail Hollow Championship: world No. 1 Tiger Woods or world No. 2 Phil Mickelson? Senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell offer their takes.
By REX HOGGARD
At Quail Hollow Club – as close to Grand Slam ground as one gets without the hardware – neither player has separated himself from the other.
In four starts Woods has a victory (2007) and not a card outside the top 11, a .250 batting average that is close to his Tour norm; while Mickelson is winless in Charlotte in six starts but has three top-5 finishes including last year’s T-5.
Nor has either player separated himself this season. Lefty’s Masters “W” was his first top-5 card of the year and Woods’ T-4 at Augusta National was solid considering the circumstances but something short of definitive.
The only advantage goes to Woods, whose fourth-place finish last year included one of his best putting weeks of the season (T-11 in total putts), compared to Mickelson’s pedestrian tie for 22nd in total putts which included a four-putt at the 17th hole in Round 2.
Woods gets the call, but not by much.
By RANDALL MELLYou pick against Tiger Woods at your own peril.
Nobody’s been a better bet over the years with Woods winning nearly once every three times he tees it up on the PGA Tour. Phil Mickelson wins about once every 10 times.
This week’s Quail Hollow Championship will mark the 173rd time Woods and Mickelson have played a PGA Tour event together as pros. Woods immediately gained the upper hand the first time they teed it up together as pros. He won the Las Vegas Invitational in 1996 while Mickelson tied for eighth. Over the years, Woods has won 52 times when they were playing the same PGA Tour event, Mickelson 13.
Quail Hollow leans to Woods’ favor, too, where he’s won once in their four starts there together. Mickelson’s looking for his first win at Quail Hollow. Mickelson has finished better than Woods there just once.
If you were posting odds this week, though, Woods wouldn’t be your overwhelming favorite. Mickelson has won the last three times these two have played the same event. Lefty seems due at Quail Hollow. He is the best player who has never won there. He has finished tied for third, tied for fifth twice and tied for seventh in his six starts at the venue.
Still, Woods makes you pay when you bet against him.