If Phil Mickelson wins this year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, he’ll take over the role as the number one golfer in the world.
Possibly more significant is Tiger Woods would finally be dethroned.
There are few (well-documented) ways Mickelson can take over the No. 1 spot from Tiger today. While some golf fans might see this as justice finally served for Woods, whose off-the-course hysteria overshadowed the rest of the sport for months (and perhaps still does).
But let’s be honest, the sport of golf is at its best when Tiger lurks around the top of a leader board (and the record books). Woods, who has been blasted by miscellaneous media outlets since his life-altering car crash last November, can ill afford more bad press and distractions.
The living legend has made it clear that his struggles away from golf have affected his game. Call it age, distractions, marital issues, or anything else, but Tiger hasn’t been himself on the course.
He hasn’t been the Tiger golf fans are accustomed to.
He hasn’t been the Tiger the game of golf needs (and misses).
Just two years ago, Woods won the Open on practically one leg in improbable fashion. That victory seems about as long ago as his historic Open championship at Pebble Beach in 2000.
But say Woods doesn’t win on Sunday. Say he loses the Open, and his No. 1 ranking to Mickelson; that might be a hole even the great Tiger Woods can’t climb out of.
The biggest constant through all the turmoil in Tiger’s life on and off the field has been his ranking atop the world’s best golfers. Without it, Tiger just isn’t Tiger.
Perhaps Tiger will never be the same player again.
Over the last decade, we’ve become accustomed to tuning in to golf to watch ‘Tiger take on the field.’ Since his leg injury in 2008, Woods hasn’t been the same, and he certainly hasn’t been himself since his life fell apart in November.
So while golf fans root for the lovable Lefty to pull off a comeback at Pebble Beach, and snag the illusive U.S. Open championship, perhaps they should stop and think about the potential consequences.
Woods’ comeback started Saturday with a third-round, five-under 66.
An ideal scenario would be watching Tiger complete the comeback and lift the championship trophy late Sunday.
A perfect scenario has Tiger Woods atop the golf world where he belongs.