The Pebble Beach National Pro-Am turned out to be just what the golf world needed. Fans got to see Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods in the same group in the final round. Once upon a time this was the greatest rivalry in golf. But the last few years have been anything but great for these two stars. This served as a reminder of how much better things are when both are playing well. It made for the most compelling golf on television in some time. I can only hope that we see more of it in the future. Perhaps Phil and Tiger will battle it out in the final group at Augusta. No matter how many rising stars there are in golf, this tournament reminded us that Phil and Tiger together is an attraction that can't be topped.
I love that a bunch of new golfers have risen up the rankings. Guys like Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Dustin Johnson, and Keegan Bradley are definitely worth watching. But there is something different about Phil and Tiger. Golf seems much bigger and better when one of the two is contending. When both are contending there are few things better. We haven't seen it too much over the last few years.
Since winning the Masters in 2010, Mickelson has fallen off a bit. He dropped out of the top 10 in the rankings. He failed to contend at majors. He was off to a bad start in 2012. Lefty was starting to look like his best days were behind him. The decline of Tiger has been even worse. He hasn't won a PGA event since 2009. Once the most intimidating player in the world, Woods has become ordinary. He hasn't been able to string together four strong rounds. Though he is still the biggest name in golf, Woods hasn't' felt like a factor in a long time.
That changed at Pebble Beach. Phil and Tiger were paired in the same group and both were a few shots behind the leader. But that didn't matter since we all knew they would be the group to watch. No one is going to remember that Charlie Wi entered the day four shots clear of both golfers. People weren't tuning in to see Wi try and win. They were tuning into see something special from Tiger or Phil. They got just that. Though Tiger faltered, Mickelson fired an impressive 64 to win the tournament. Watching the two play was like watching them in the glory days. It was like two legends reminding us that the game still belongs to them. No matter who rises in golf or who wins a major, Tiger and Phil will always be the guys we want to watch the most. For the first time in a long time we got to see both at their best.E is s
* - Mark Paul is an avid golf fan. Follow him on Twitter here.
- Tiger Woods