Dynamic Duo

By Rex HoggardApril 29, 2010, 1:03 am
Quail Hollow ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. – Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods passed within 10 feet of each other just past noon on Wednesday here in the heart of southern hospitality without saying a word.

No need.

Not with the type of “War and Peace” body language alpha and omega had going on a cold, windy day at Quail Hollow. One was fresh from a third green jacket, the other a metaphorical triumph that has become easier to swallow with Magnolia Lane now a fortnight in the rearview.

“I wasn't very happy I lost,” Woods said. “But given a little time to reflect on it, it was an incredible week. I think it went as well as it could have possibly gone.”

Golf is at its best when Tiger and Phil are at their best, and by all accounts Nos. 1 and 2 have finished dancing around one another.

Since Tiger time began, Mickelson has been the hands down “best supporting actor.” But the show was always Tiger’s. Yet that reality, in a subtle way, has started to shift slightly and it began long before the fire hydrant.

In the last three events both have played (Tour Championship, WGC-HSBC Champions and Masters) Mickelson is 3-0. Lefty is 2.46 world ranking points behind Woods and victories this week and next week at TPC Sawgrass would propel Lefty into the top spot.

Mickelson has been closer, at least statistically. After his victory last year at the WGC-CA Championship he moved within a half point of Woods in the World Ranking. But even then one didn’t feel an impending tectonic shift atop the golf world.

Now, however, the vibe is different. The gulf that always existed between the two hasn’t closed, but there is a distinct feeling that it has narrowed.

It’s telling how each player spent the last two weeks.

Mickelson said he felt “isolated” as he spent time with his family and didn’t hide his confidence, “I have high expectations,” he said. And why wouldn’t he? His Masters three-peat was the perfect combination of performance and blind self-belief.

Asked if he’d watched any highlights of his victory Mickelson’s mind immediately went to his bold approach shot from the pine straw at the 13th hole on Sunday.

“I kind of looked back and saw some of the pictures, I was like . . . what was I doing? But it worked out,” Mickelson smiled.

While Woods still seemed to be searching for normalcy, both on and off the golf course. Even with the Augusta National storm in the books it’s clear it is not business as usual in Camp Tiger.

“There's paparazzi everywhere, at home, helicopters here and there, people driving by, paparazzi camping out in front of the gates. That hasn't changed,” Woods said.

But then it’s not as though karma has much interest in staying on script. Tiger vs. Phil Sunday showdowns are special because they are rare. As gifted as both players are the odds of them simultaneously answering the call are not in the game’s favor.

On Wednesday Woods looked “scratchy” in his pro-am round. He was experimenting with a new golf ball around the greens and an old one off the tee box that had an affinity for the trees right of fairways.

Hours later Mickelson walked off Quail Hollow after just six pro-am holes suffering from dehydration. In a statement released by tournament officials, Mickelson said he felt ill on Tuesday evening but expects to tee off for the first round on Thursday afternoon.

Simply put, neither top card looked Sunday ready. But from humble beginnings come great things.

Flash back to Wednesday at Augusta National. Woods was justifiably distracted by an uncomfortable return to the spotlight without a tune-up round outside the gates of Isleworth, while Mickelson had just a single top-10 finish in 2010 and appeared rightfully distracted by his wife’s ongoing health issues.

Both exceeded expectations, which has become the norm rather than the exception.

Quail Hollow is a major championship venue that both players enjoy. Ditto for TPC Sawgrass and Pebble Beach (U.S. Open), to say nothing of Muirfield Village (Memorial). The showdown may not be coming this week, but it is coming.

It was etched into both players’ body language even as the two headed silently in opposite directions on Wednesday afternoon. A collision of the game’s dynamic duo seemed imminent.

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 7:08 pm

Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.


Getty Images

Watch: Highlights from Tiger's first round at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is back at the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013, and he provided the fans in Atlanta with some highlights on the first day of competition.

Still looking for his first win of the year after coming close on numerous occasions, Woods started the day off by splitting the fairway on the first hole with the driver, not even bothering to watch his ball land.

Despite the picture-perfect opening tee shot, Woods would go on to bogey the first hole, but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, making putts from 26 and 15 feet.

Tiger's best shot on the front nine came on the par-4 seventh hole after he found the pine straw behind a tree with his drive. The 14-time major champ punched one under the tree limbs and onto the green, then calmly two-putted for par from about 40 feet en route to a front-side 1-under 34.

Woods added two more birdies on the par-4 12th and 14th holes, rolling in putts of 3 feet and 7 feet after a couple of great looking approach shots.

Getty Images

Garcia (66) peaking for Ryder Cup?

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 20, 2018, 6:17 pm

Sergio Garcia might be finding his form just in time to terrorize the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Garcia made seven birdies during an opening round of 5-under 66 to sit just two shots off the early lead at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.

It was Garcia’s fifth consecutive round of par or better, a stretch that includes rounds of 66-65-67-70-66. That solid play at the Wyndham Championship wasn’t enough to extend his PGA Tour season – he didn’t qualify for the FedExCup playoffs – but the Spaniard is starting to round into form with the Ryder Cup on deck.


Full-field scores from the Portugal Masters


A few weeks ago he was a controversial selection by European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn. After missing the cut in all four majors, Garcia could have been left at home in favor of such players as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace (a three-time winner this season who, once again, is at the top of the leaderboard in Portugal), Matt Fitzpatrick or Thomas Pieters. But Bjorn tabbed Garcia, noting his Ryder Cup experience, his sterling foursomes record and his influence in the team room. If Phil Mickelson is the U.S. player under the most pressure to perform in Paris, all eyes will be on Garcia next week – especially since it could be one of his final opportunities to wear a European uniform, as he’ll be 40 for the 2020 matches.

Garcia’s 66 matched his lowest opening round of the year and puts him in position to secure just his second top-10 since March.

Getty Images

Watch: 100mph storm destroys tent at St. Andrews

By Grill Room TeamSeptember 20, 2018, 4:25 pm

The Old Course at St. Andrews has endured all sorts of wacky weather over the years, but things ratcheted up a notch this week with the arrival of Storm Ali.

The first named storm of the season struck Wednesday, bringing 100 mph gusts, killing two people and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power in parts of Ireland, Scotland and England.

According to the Courier no one was injured in the St. Andrews area, but a video posted from the home of golf shows just how powerful the storm was as wind absolutely destroyed one of the hospitality tents set up in advance of the Dunhill Links Championship:

While plenty of clean-up is sure to be needed, officials say the Dunhill Links, which also be conducted at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, will go on as scheduled October 4-7.