A year ago, the prospect of a Tiger Woods/Phil Mickelson pairing late in the FedEx Cup playoffs would have had tournament officials, networks and fans salivating. Tiger and Phil paired? Why, that must mean they're both throttling the field! That's golf as it ought to be, mano a mano for the biggest check in sports!
Yeah, uh ... not exactly. In the final round of the BMW Championship, they're both tied for 22nd, even par and eight strokes behind leader Ryan Moore. It's the first time they've been paired together since the final round of the 2009 Masters, another moment which, as you may recall, both failed to live up to expectations.
Certainly, this pairing will dominate TV coverage and the galleries. The two remain a phenomenal draw, more compelling than the rest of the field put together. But they've both stumbled this year like never before, Tiger looking more lost than we've ever seen him, Phil fumbling away chance after chance to take control of this game.
In short, this has been the most disappointing season for star-quality golf in years, if not decades. Woods has never gone a full professional season without a win, and Mickelson has rarely looked this out of sorts when trying to take control of a golf tournament. It's painful to see, golf's two titans with feet of clay.
Of course, none of this is to say that either of these guys is washed up. Both have the ability to throttle the rest of the field on any given day, and with a little time away from the game, both should come back strong in 2011. But until then, Sunday will be nothing more than a reminder of what could have been.
Woods holds a slight head-to-head edge over Mickelson, 11-10-4. The duo tees off at 11:56 a.m. Eastern ... plenty of time for them to wrap before the NFL's Week 1 gets rolling too fast to catch up.