Souhan: Lamenting the Tiger-Lefty rivalry that never really was

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 15, 2014 - 6:33 AM

Back-nine duels between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson never really materialized as we wished.

– Golf has reached a turning point. Like most turning points, this one offers the chance to reminisce or regret, to hope or worry.

For the first time in 20 years, they held a major championship at Augusta National and neither Tiger Woods nor Phil Mickelson played on the weekend. If they weren’t missed for much of the Masters, as youngsters and seniors vied for attention, they were missed Sunday afternoon, when their play inevitably draws the eye, whether they’re making eagles or rinsing golf balls in Rae’s Creek.

Their old selves might be missed for a long time.

Woods hasn’t won a major since 2008 and is recovering from back surgery, perhaps the most devastating procedure a golfer can undergo. He no longer holds his old advantages of length or intimidation, and he has dedicated at least part of his life to raising his children, raising questions about whether he will ever regain the fierce dedication that separated himself from so many of his peers.

Mickelson, at 43, is past his prime and, as Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee noted this week, has lost club-head speed, robbing him of distance.

Neither is what he once was, and that’s a shame, because they never became, together, what we had hoped.

Either could win another major or win another Masters, but the odds of them appearing again at the same Masters ceremony have greatly diminished.

We hoped for a rivalry, for two players who vied for so many of the same majors and who never liked each other to duel on back nines for decades. It rarely happened anywhere, and it never really happened at Augusta National, and that’s strange and sad.

Woods won the Masters four times. Mickelson won it three times. They even draped the green jacket over each other’s shoulders, yet they avoided each other on Masters weekends the way feuding neighbors avoid eye contact at the grocery store.

If the dream of seeing Woods and Mickelson in the final pairing on Sunday at the Masters is dead, what’s left?

This year’s Masters offered a hint: unpredictability.

On the final leaderboard this weekend was a self-taught bomber (Bubba Watson), a 20-year-old who hits it short and straight (Jordan Spieth), a Swede who plays with stereotypical European flair (Jonas Blixt), a 50-year-old cigar aficionado who defines European flair (Miguel Angel Jimenez), a potential American star (Rickie Fowler), veteran grinders such as Matt Kuchar and Lee Westwood, and one of the Latest Next Tigers (Rory McIlroy.)

This weekend, for the first time in 20 years, the casual golf fan couldn’t flip on the television on Masters Sunday and look for the scores of Mickelson and Woods.

We might have to get used to this. We might have to accept that the rivalry we craved will never be.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Video: Golf.com: Augusta Is Watson's

    Monday April 14, 2014

    In his video essay, Sports Illustrated's Jeff Ritter recaps the four rounds at Augusta and discusses Bubba Watson's return...

  • RandBall: Watson hasn't always appeared so mature, local golfer says

    Monday April 14, 2014

    Good times

  • Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have seven Masters titles between them, but rarely did they contend during the same year.

  • Phil Mickelson got his green jacket in 2006 from Tiger Woods. With Woods recovering from back surgery and Mickelson past his prime, the Masters leaderboard might never be the same.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 3 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Miami 7 FINAL
Washington 11
Detroit 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Minnesota 6 FINAL
Baltimore 5
NY Yankees 7 FINAL
Houston 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 2
Cincinnati 8 FINAL
LA Angels 6
Chicago Cubs 7 FINAL
Kansas City 0
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
San Francisco 11
Chicago WSox 4 FINAL
Cleveland 1
Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Oakland 7
Seattle 5 FINAL
San Diego 8
Texas 5 FINAL
Los Angeles 10
Colorado 11 FINAL
Arizona 10
Arizona 1 FINAL
Colorado 2
Houston 99 FINAL
Washington 91
LA Lakers 99 FINAL
Brooklyn 107
Minnesota 88 FINAL
New Orleans 110
Philadelphia 86 FINAL
Cleveland 87
Detroit 102 FINAL
Miami 109
LA Clippers 119 FINAL
Boston 106
Dallas 99 FINAL
Indiana 104
Memphis 89 FINAL
San Antonio 103
Oklahoma City 100 4th Qtr 3:26
Phoenix 89
Washington 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 2
Calgary 5 FINAL
Nashville 2
Boston 2 FINAL(OT)
Carolina 1
Detroit 4 FINAL
NY Islanders 5
Florida 4 FINAL
Ottawa 2
Anaheim 2 FINAL
New Jersey 1
Chicago 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
San Jose 2 FINAL(SO)
Pittsburgh 3
Michigan State 76 FINAL
Louisville 70
Gonzaga 52 FINAL
Duke 66
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Toronto FC 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
(7) Florida State 74 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 80
Villanova 70 FINAL
West Virginia 75
Michigan 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 60
Temple 69 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 57
Siena 50 FINAL
Louisiana 52
St Marys-CA 66 FINAL
UCLA 82
(5) Baylor 68 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Major League Soccer be successful in Minnesota?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close