Phil Mickelson: Lefty Leaning Toward Epic Masters Clash with Tiger Woods

Josh Martin@@JoshMartinNBANBA Lead WriterApril 5, 2012

PEBBLE BEACH, CA - FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson wait on the seventh hole tee during the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links on February 12, 2012 in Pebble Beach, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

And so it goes with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Or Lefty and Tiger, if you'd prefer.

In any case, they'll be back in the spotlight, together and apart, at The Masters this week and the world of golf couldn't be much happier.

Sure, it'll be exciting to see whether Rory McIlroy is really ready to be the "Next Big Thing" in golf, or if Adam Scott and Stevie Williams can bring the Green Jacket back to Oceania.

I'd include watching Luke Donald attempt to pair his No. 1 world ranking with his first Major championship, but what about Donald's game has ever inspired much emotion?

The point is, the Masters remains The Phil and Tiger Show (or the Tiger and Phil Show whatever). That's what happens when you have two guys who are still superstars in the sport, who could fill a walk-in closet with Green Jackets, who've combined for 25 (count 'em) top-10 finishes at Augusta.

Granted, they're not exactly the spring chicks they used to be, Tiger at 36 and Phil at 41.

But they're still the two biggest names in the game and if not, they're at least the two most prominent figures at Augusta every time they walk the course. When Tiger won back-to-back Masters in 2001 and 2002, Lefty wasn't far behind in third place. When Mickelson claimed his second, Tiger came in third.

For Phil's third in 2010, Woods dropped down to fourth.

In fact, on eight occasions, Woods and Mickelson have left Georgia with top-10 finishes in the same field.

To be sure, their rivalry hasn't been the same in recent years. Both have encountered pain in their personal lives, the sort that's rightfully distracted them from their sport of choice and forced them to pare down their club-bound activities.

None of that matters now, though. What's done is done.

What comes next is anyone's best guess, though if history is any guide to the future, fans can expect another memorable fight to the finish between two of the greatest Masters champions of all time.

Just like the good ol' days.