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Golf Australia Express : Issue 23
TIGER AND Phil head- to-head. It’s been golf’s greatest rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo dueled on fairways in the 80s and 90s. And like the Shark and the Sir, these are two different men with distinct playing styles. Boy, haven’t they given us some amazing displays over the years? Real tooth-and- nail battles. Remember the 2001 Masters? Or the epic toing and froing at the 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship? Many thought a similar battle was about to ensue at Pebble Beach last Sunday. Paired together for the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am—and four and six shots behind 54-hole leader Charlie Wi respectively—the Tiger and Phil Show was all set up for prime-time airing. And the numbers were gonna go through the roof. Then something (read Tiger’s putter) pulled the plug. While Mickelson went on to play some of his finest golf of his career in that round—going on to win the event by two shots thanks to a swashbuckling 8-under 64—his former dominant playing partner fell away like one of the celebrity amateurs. Only he wasn’t laughing. Much has been made of the Tiger-Lefty rivalry over the years, and now after 30 pairings together the duo is all tied up when it comes to points—doesn’t get any tighter than that. Yet while each has enjoyed as many wins over the other—head- to-head they’re all square at 13-13-4— the latest ‘W’ in the Mickelson corner might well be the most revealing about the trend for future clashes. From the first drive to the last putt at Pebble a deficit of 11 shots divided the pair. It wasn’t a win—it was a Mollydooking trouncing. One of the ironies in Tiger World has been his inability to close out a round these days. That used to be a TW trademark. Grown men would mentally soil themselves and fall over under the weight of intimidation as Tiger made a move on a Sunday. But not anymore. And certainly not Phil anymore. Although Tiger has owned bragging rights for most of their careers, it’s Mickelson who’s had the wood over the former world No.1 in recent times. Since 2007 he boasts an 8-3-1 record against Tiger, and that doesn’t look like levelling out anytime soon. But as Mickelson is quick to point out, it hasn’t always been in his favour. “I love playing with him, and he brings out some of my best golf.” Year Event Phil Tiger 1997 PGA Championship 4 75 75 1997 NEC Invitational 2 72 72 1997 TOUR Championship 2 72 68 1998 Nissan Open 1 67 68 1998 Nissan Open 2 76 73 1999 US Open 3 73 72 2000 NEC Invitational 3 69 67 2000 Buick Open 3 65 67 2000 TOUR Championship 1 67 68 2001 PLAYERS Championship 3 72 66 2001 Masters 4 70 68 2002 TOUR Championship 1 70 71 2002 TOUR Championship 4 69 70 2003 Buick Invitational 4 72 68 2005 Ford Championship at Doral 4 69 66 2006 Ford Championship at Doral 3 72 68 2006 PGA Championship 1 69 69 2006 PGA Championship 2 71 68 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship 1 70 72 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship 2 64 64 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship 4 66 67 2008 US Open 1 71 72 2008 US Open 2 75 68 2009 Masters 4 67 68 2009 WGC-HSBC Champions 4 69 72 2010 BMW Championship 4 67 70 2011 WGC-Cadillac Championship 1 73 70 2011 WGC-Cadillac Championship 2 71 74 2011 WGC-Cadillac Championship 3 72 70 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National 4 64 75 RIVALRY THE