It was nice to see Jack Nicklaus get misty-eyed Wednesday when introducing Tom Watson as the special honoree at this year's Memorial Tournament.
Watson, in return, got a little choked up in his acceptance speech.
And it got me wondering if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will feel similarly about each other when their playing careers wind down.
But time changes people.
Maybe it will change Tiger.
The Nicklaus-Watson rivalry didn't have the personality of the Nicklaus-Arnold Palmer rivalry because Palmer was the most popular player the game has ever had. He still is.
Nicklaus came along, usurped Arnie's throne and went about building the greatest record in the game's history. Part of what makes Nicklaus's record so spectacular is the players he beat -- and sometimes didn't beat. He got Palmer at the end of his career but he got Johnny Miller, Lee Trevino, Tom Weiskopf and Watson in their primes.
Watson got the best of Nicklaus four times in major championships, most famously in the British Open at Turnberry and the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach where Watson chipped in at the 17th hole to win. Watson counter-punched against Nicklaus as well as anyone ever did.
They became friends and Nicklaus referred to them as competitors rather than rivals. Both of them have aged gracefully and remained relevant in the game. Nicklaus has embraced Watson, Trevino and Palmer, among others.
The Tiger-Phil rivalry hasn't had the defining major championship moments like Nicklaus and Watson had against each other. They've gone head to head at times in regular tour events and they had their unfortunate day together at the Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills.
But when you think about Tiger versus Phil, what comes to mind? Personalities, for sure. Different styles, no doubt. But they've not had their Turnberry moment.
It's easy to see Mickelson reminiscing about the glory days years from now, eyes twinkling at the memories. It's not so easy to see Woods that way.
He may feel some of it but he's rarely been one to show his emotions, other than crying on Steve Williams' shoulder when he won the British Open after his father's death.
Like it or not, both Woods and Mickelson have helped define the other and will for years to come.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Posted by Observer Sports at 11:17 AM