Sunday, February 12, 2012

Phil does it; Tiger doesn't

Waiting for the old Tiger Woods to show up - we're still waiting, by the way - the old Phil Mickelson returned Sunday at Pebble Beach in California.

It was supposed to be the Sunday when golf got Tiger all the way back, all fist pumps and red shirts on the edge of Carmel Bay. Instead, Woods added to his recent habit of playing three strong days and finishing with a whimper, and it was Mickelson who showed us what we've been missing.

It's nice to have Mickelson, 41, back, smiling and slashing, making those early-season questions about whether sunset was approaching seem as silly as they were. Obviously, Mickelson hasn't been winning as often as he did in years past, but Sunday was his 40th victory and serves as more than a hint that he has more days like it in his future.

For all the attention that has been devoted to Woods' attempt to recapture his former glory, there had been a growing suspicion that Mickelson might have lost, if not his edge, at least a measure of his intensity. But with his wife, Amy, on site and paired with Woods in the final round, Mickelson was back. He's always played golf in neon, and he did it again at Pebble Beach, turning a gray day bright.

The Masters, two months away, got a little more interesting with what Mickelson did at Pebble Beach. As for Woods, the final round was a huge disappointment. He went backward on a day when he always seemed to go the other way.

If his new swing looked OK, his body language again looked like a man fighting to contain his frustration. He missed fairways, he missed greens and he missed putts. More than anything, Woods missed an opportunity.

He'll have more, but he'll also have the scar tissue of another disappointing finish. Still, Woods is trending the right way, especially when you consider where his game has - or hasn't - been the past year or two.

For a guy who shut more doors than Master Lock, Woods is learning to do it again. It's the hardest part of tournament golf. His inability to close out his past two Sunday rounds should only remind us of how good he was because days like this Sunday never happened.

Sunday's final round at Pebble Beach was a reminder of how special Woods and Mickelson have been over the past 15 years or so. Like (Harry) Vardon and (Ted) Ray, (Ben) Hogan and (Sam) Snead and (Jack) Nicklaus and (Arnold) Palmer, they're this generation's defining pair. They arrived together on the first tee Sunday looking to recapture what they've had.

Mickelson did it. For Tiger, the quest continues.


tarhoosier said...

Your man crush is showing (again)

Redlight said...

I could pull for Tiger a lot more if the media (not you that much) would quit cramming him down our throat.

He's lost his family, his Dad, his coach and his caddy. He may have also (mentally) lost his edge.

Anonymous said...

Ron, please---why the obsession with Tiger? You shouldn't have mentioned him except in passing. Phil was the story, the whole story and nothing but the story today. When will it stop?

Anonymous said...

Tiger's putting was so bad it looks like he may be getting the yips. He was missing two footers and stuff. Not good.

Anonymous said...

Tiger's putting was so bad it looks like he may be getting the yips. He was missing two footers and stuff. Not good.

BUCKGUY said...

Great job Phil I am glad that the CLASS ACT won and not the one who is all hype and over-rated by the media

Anonymous said...

I think when Tiger quits playing the game will no longer exist! Just ask Jr. or Sr.

Anonymous said...

Woods had the look I saw on Cam Newtons face several times during this past season. Whe all an athlete has ever done is win, they often throw in the towel a little harder and more noticeably that the rest of us would. Getting told no, or being shown the performance equivilent brings out the worst behavior/reaction in some people. Tiger looks like a man with a whole lot more still going South than just his golf game.

Anonymous said...

I bet Tiger would like to try out a belly putter, but he has poo poo'd them so long.....he wouldn't be able to do it in good faith. If he did, look out. He wins these tourneys going away.

NCdirtdigger said...

And the winner gets the blonde.