Two Heavyweights Two Admirers

By George WhiteMarch 8, 2005, 5:00 pm
Tiger just doesnt like Phil, we have been continuously told. The Ryder Cup last year was supposed to have borne that out for seemingly the 100th time, when Woods and Mickelson had a magnificent flameout after being paired together twice.
Mickelsons occasional misspeak ' remember the inferior equipment jab a couple of years ago ' has contributed to the alleged falling out. But such resentment is purely speculation. Woods has too much class to put it into words - if ever it existed in the first place.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods came out on top after his much anticipated Sunday duel with Phil Mickelson.
Suffice it to say that Tiger has never been particularly palsy-walsy with ANYONE on the golf course. After 18 holes, players say that Woods is as nice a guy as you could ever meet. But Woods never has been a Lee Trevino on the course, jaws flapping at his playing partner about nothing in particular and everything in general. And Tiger especially does not make small talk with Mickelson. Mickelson, after all, is one of the real forces to be met and conquered.
After their great round Sunday, though, when every punch seemingly was met with a counter-punch, there seemed to be a genuine respect between the two. Phil spoke glowingly about Tiger after his Saturday round. Tiger was full of respect late Sunday afternoon.
Mickelson was especially disconsolate after it was over, and it is to his everlasting credit that he was. He has been playing well enough that he feels he is superior to anybody ' read that to mean Tiger Woods - and he was particularly downcast after this defeat.
I can understand why he's feeling the way he is, because all the pressure was on Phil, said Tiger, who then proceeded to mention the reasons for noting that.
But I can understand why he felt that way, there's no doubt about it. A lot of the pressure was on him and I was - I caught him at 10, all of a sudden I took a two-shot lead, two holes later he comes right back with back-to-back birdies.
'That shows you what kind of competitor Phil is, what kind of player he is. Don't forget what he did on that back nine. That was impressive to watch.
Mickelson, though, despite his obvious disappointment, seemed to realize this had been a memorable match-up.
There was a lot of positive things that happened, said Phil of this once-in-a-blue-moon day. I mean, I enjoyed and loved playing head-to-head against Tiger at his best. It was great fun.
Later, Mickelson reiterated his point. I loved it. I mean, I really loved it. I want to play him at his best again. I hope he plays his best at The Players, and I hope I do, too. I want to be head-to-head against him again.
And for Tiger, this was as close to the perfect day as it gets. After it was over, he allowed himself the opportunity to get a little emotional.
We were both excited, he said. I can't speak for Phil, but I certainly was nervous out there. If you're not nervous on a day like this, you're not alive.
That's what's fun about it, because we are both going at it and we both knew that we had to make birdies. It wasn't like a U.S. Open where you just go out and make a bunch of pars and you probably end up winning the tournament. You could not sit on a par. You had to be aggressive. You had to be aggressive on every hole to try to make birdies.
Woods gave the impression that just playing against Mickelson on a day when the two heavyweights were in near-perfect form is a pleasure. Certainly, this was a lot of fun to be able to be a part of something like this, he said.
Phil returned the high praise. He may not be playing his best, but it sure is one of the best games ever, Mickelson said Saturday evening. It's just that when he plays his best, things like the 2000 U.S. Open happen where he wins by double digits. He's a remarkable competitor.
And yet, Mickelson made it plain that hes reached that upper-upper level, too.
When he made eagle on 12, I loved it, because I want a chance to compete against him at his best, said Phil. And when he knocked that in, he was 6-under through 12 holes and I think he was playing at his best. And that's what I wanted, a chance to compete against him at his best. I didn't want him to be giving it to me. I wanted to go after it. When he knocked that putt in (on 12,) I loved it.
I think sometimes that too much is being made of the personalities, that this person doesn't like that person. True, I have never heard Tiger dispute the rumor of his anti-Phil bias, but then again, I can never recall him being asked about it point-blank.
Tiger, it's true, didn't like the inferior equipment comment, but then Mickelson in his own way was passing along an underhanded compliment. Woods has a true respect for anyone who can strike the ball a la Phil. Both are around 30 now, and surely whatever problems they once had - or didn't have - are forgotten. They are, after all, two of the game's supreme competitors. And both enjoy the rivalry immensely.
And after it was over, the other players knew what had happened. They knew that they were part of a very special day.
I think it's a great week for golf, said Zack Johnson. This is what the spectators want. They want these kind of duels. They will have a lot more of them. Four or five, six years ago, Tiger raised the bar and now everybody is starting to come toward him.
It's fun to watch as a spectator, but it's frustrating for us because we have to step it up. All in all, it's great for the game.
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TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.


-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.

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Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.

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DeChambeau gets foursomes, fourball mixed up

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Bryson DeChambeau is an accomplished player when it comes to match play, having captured the U.S. Amateur and starred on a Walker Cup team. But don’t ask him to explain the semantic difference between the formats in play at this week’s Ryder Cup.

DeChambeau became crossed up Tuesday at Le Golf National when he was asked about the intricacies of foursomes play – better known to many Americans as alternate shot.

“Fourball, foursomes, I always get those mixed up,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just easier for me to say alternate shot.”

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Thankfully for DeChambeau, he still has some time to make a distinction between the two before the matches begin in earnest. And when they do, it’ll be fourballs for the morning sessions both Friday and Saturday, with foursomes in the afternoon – a change from the 2016 matches when DeChambeau was on the grounds at Hazeltine as a spectator.

While the foursomes format brings with it added pressure in an already tense environment, one of the biggest concerns is how well players can adjust to using the ball of their partner on a given hole. DeChambeau is known to leave nothing to chance in his preparation, and he’s already circled that particular factor as he gets set to make his Ryder Cup debut.

“It’s key because we want to be comfortable. Each player needs to be comfortable with the ball that they are playing,” DeChambeau said. “So for compatibility reasons, it’s one of the most important things out there in regards to alternate shot. It is the most important.”