Since the U.S. Open, it’s looked like Phil Mickelson would have things all his own way. Now, with a crushing win at Firestone, Tiger Woods has emerged wagging his finger and admonishing his longtime rival, “Not so fast.”
Both Phil and Tiger are reminding us what it is like to watch the greatest compete against each other, and we may be in for the ultimate thrill when they meet up at Oak Hill.
First, Phil just missed a win at the U.S. Open, then won back-to-back tourneys at the Scottish Open and British Open in the most dramatic fashion.
Tiger followed a lackluster performance at the U.S. Open with a promising opening two rounds at the British Open. Unfortunately, he continues to fight his weekend demons and came up empty while managing his second top-10 finish in a major this season.
Then came Firestone, which could be renamed Fire and Brimstone, as he torched the field in a way only Tiger could do. All he did was shoot a 61 in the third round, go seven up after the third round and cruise to his fifth victory of the year and eighth career victory at Firestone.
Now, it appears the only person who can stand in Tiger’s way is his rival from the other side of the tee—Phil, the best lefty to ever play the game.
Phil has been remarkable in the majors over the last few years, between winning the Masters in 2010, his recent Open Championship victory and a trio of top-five finishes at the majors sandwiched between. His resilience under pressure and consistency on golf’s biggest stages have made him a worthy adversary of perhaps golf’s greatest champion, Tiger Woods.
Tiger, however, has been doing his best version of Jekyll and Hyde at the majors. He’s been a constant contender Thursdays and Fridays at majors over the last few seasons only to succumb to mental mistakes and poor execution on the weekends, prolonging his major drought to five long, dreadful years.
Can you imagine the TV ratings if the two of them were paired on the final day, competing head-to-head as they go after the final major of the year?
For Phil, it would mean winning a consecutive major and likely propelling him to his first world No. 1 ranking.
For Tiger, it would mean silencing the naysayers and ending the five-year drought en route to his ultimate goal of besting Jack Nicklaus’ major title record of 18.
For us, it would be the story of the year.