We get it. You’re past your primes. The young phenoms have taken over. There’s safety in numbers.
There’s money to be made.
But can we please slow the budding middle-aged love affair between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods?
It was a lot more fun when these guys didn’t like each other – or at least pretended not to.
Now the two can’t get enough of each other. As Woods and Mickelson have reemerged on the golf scene, their bromance has intensified. Wednesday’s display of passion may have been the most outward yet as Woods gushed over an “extraordinary” Mickelson fresh off a win at Pebble Beach.
Woods overflows with praise for Mickelson
“What Phil has done has been extraordinary, to be that consistent for the length of time,” Woods said Wednesday via ESPN. “He’s been out here since  and made every single team [Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup] since ’94. He’s won major championships; he’s won events.
“He’s just been so consistent, and that’s the hardest thing to do. Each and every one of us have enough talent to have little hot runs out here, but to sustain it for two decades like he has.”
Excuse me while I gag.
Steely eyed Tiger wouldn’t have been caught dead singing Lefty’s praises like that as he crushed him on the course.
It didn’t used to be like this
Mickelson was the closest thing Woods had to a rival in his prime. But his five major titles still pale in comparison to Woods’ 14.
Where Woods was a consistent cold-blooded killer, Lefty mixed in the occasional epic U.S. Open collapse to let Tiger know he stood alone atop the game’s pedestal. It was part of his charm.
The two sniped at each other about their games and their equipment and elevated the game beyond its starched country-club roots to a rivalry average fans could relate to. Even if they were watching multimillionaires battle it out.
Tiger the nice guy
But as Woods fell from grace and has worked to build himself back up, we’ve seen a kinder, gentler Tiger.
It was on display when the two put on their multimillion-dollar pay-per-view debacle last fall that saw feigned trash talk and bad golf. There was no legitimate sense of competition in the build-up or the match itself that was a dud on the day after Thanksgiving.
We should have seen it coming when they played a practice round together at Augusta last April.
And now it’s on full display as Tiger talks up Lefty ahead of this weekend’s tournament at Riviera.
More praise from Woods
“Trust me, I recognize this,” Woods said. “It’s not easy to pick up club-head speed, which he has done as he’s gotten older. That’s been extraordinary. That’s what’s allowed him to stay out here with some of these longer guys; he’s been able to hit the ball farther. That’s something that he’s done. He’s adjusted his putting. He’s made more putts than I think I’ve seen in years in the last year and a half. It’s one of the reasons why he’s won two big events.”
He wasn’t done.
“It has always pushed me,” Woods said. “I remember talking to Arnold [Palmer] and Jack [Nicklaus] about this. Any time they saw each other on the [leader]board, they would say, ‘What’s he at? What’s he at?’
“My entire career, Phil will probably attest to this, we’ve always looked at the board to figure out where one another’s at. So, we’ve always had that type of enjoyment of competing against one another. And to see what he’s done or to see what he did last year in Mexico at 47 years old gave me confidence that I could somehow do it, maybe last year. And I was able to finally end my season just like he did with a win.”
That’s nice and all. But can we please get some bickering by Augusta?
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