As we wait for Thursday and Friday's opening rounds at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell weigh in on what they think makes for the better marquee pairing at Doral – world No. 1 Kaymer, No. 2 Westwood and No. 3 Donald or the group of No. 4 McDowell, No. 5 Woods and No. 6 Mickelson.
By REX HOGGARD
DORAL, Fla. – I was here in 2005, craning along with the huddled masses to get a glimpse at history. Tiger v. Phil on a PGA Tour Sunday at a venerable golf course on a perfect afternoon – it doesn’t get any better than that.
But as Thursday approaches and the Woods-Mickelson sequel looms at the WGC-Cadillac Championship one can’t escape the truth that golf’s hierarchy has changed. Tiger v. Lefty II may make headlines, but the threesome of Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald is a much-more compelling three-ball in form if not function.
Woods-Mickelson is stylish – and, let’s face it, in this town it’s all about the flash, isn’t it Heatles? – but the world Nos. 1, 2 and 3 going head-to-head-to-head for two days at Doral is competitive substance.
Donald clipped Kaymer in the WGC-Accenture Match Play final two weeks ago, but not before the German clipped Westwood for the world’s top ranking. Combined, the European threesome has won eight times globally in the last 12 months. Mickelson and Woods have combined for one title . . . albeit a good one (2010 Masters).
When Woods and Mickelson went mano-e-mano six years ago at Doral they were the game’s most consistent players. That honor, at least right now, goes to Kaymer & Co.
By RANDALL MELL
DORAL, Fla. – Maybe Tiger Woods playing alongside Phil Mickelson at the WGC-Cadillac Championship will spark something.
Maybe a fire’s built this week that fuels a resurgence in both players and rages through the Masters.
Maybe this is just what the slumping Woods and sluggish Mickelson need.
Or perhaps Graeme McDowell outplays them, just like he did when he won the U.S. Open last summer, just like he did when he beat Woods head-to-head at the Chevron World Challenge late last year.
Yes, we’ll make way too big a deal of Woods, Mickelson and McDowell being grouped together over the first two rounds at Doral because it may ultimately mean nothing, but who cares? Tiger vs. Phil? There is no more compelling pairing of games and personalities in golf today, even with both players off their form. In fact, it’s especially intriguing precisely for that reason. They may say their pairing means nothing, but we know better. We know they’ve played together 26 times in PGA Tour events and they’re 11-11-4 in trying to outdo each other.
One way or another, a message will be delivered in this group, a message about direction, but it might be McDowell delighting in delivering it.