By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The last four times Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods have been paired together, Mickelson has gotten the better of Woods. This time it resulted in a resounding victory for Mickelson at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he shot 64 to win by three.
Plagued by putting, among other things, Woods stumbled to a 75.
The two started the day separated by two strokes and ended it nine apart with Woods falling into a tie for 15th.
You have to go back to the 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship for the last time that Mickelson beat Woods head-to-head and went on to win the tournament. They played together three times that week and Mickelson shot a lower score each time.
“Let's not forget the big picture here, I've been beat up,” Mickelson said. “But the last five years, I've been able to get some of my best golf out when we play together.”
That may be true but since that victory in Boston, Mickelson has outplayed Woods nine of the 12 times the two have been paired, including Sunday.
Perhaps Butch Harmon -- Woods’ onetime coach and Mickelson’s current coach -- has something to do with that.
“Possibly,” Mickelson joked when asked if Harmon showed him any tricks of the trade that go with being paired with Woods.
Sunday, it was Mickelson’s start that was the difference. He stepped on the gas pedal with three birdies and an eagle over his first six holes to speed past Woods -- and everyone else.
Playing with Woods also brings out the best in Mickelson, certainly over these last five years anyway.
“I don't believe anybody has benefitted more from what he's done for the game than myself,” Mickelson said. “I just seem more focused. I know that his level of play is so much greater when he's playing his best than anybody else's, that it just forces me to focus on my game more intently, and hit more precise shots.”
That’s exactly what he did Sunday.