A closer look at Tiger and Phil before Sunday’s charity match
May 20, 2020
By Justin Ray, 15th Club for PGATOUR.COM
- May 20, 2020
PGA TOUR – The CUT
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson's match-up history
Two transcendent talents, tied together in history, will face off again Sunday.
I’m not talking about Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, though they both fit in that category. I’ll stick to golf in this space.
From that perspective, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are the headliners of The Match II: Champions for Charity. Woods (82 wins) and Mickelson (44) are the only players born after 1965 with more than 20 PGA TOUR victories. From 2000 through 2007, either Tiger or Phil won 17% of the tournaments on the PGA TOUR. They are first and second on the TOUR’s all-time official earnings list. Either Woods or Mickelson has finished in the top-ten in 60% of the major championships contested since 1993.
Woods holds a seemingly uncatchable record of 661 weeks atop the Official World Golf Ranking. Mickelson was ranked No. 2 for 270 weeks and stayed in the top 50 for a staggering 26 straight years.
Everyone is familiar with their countless accolades (126 combined PGA TOUR wins and counting), but how has each legend fared when they’ve gone against each other on the TOUR?
The pair has an extensive history playing together. They’ve played in the same grouping 37 times on the PGA TOUR.
Woods has got the best of Mickelson in those situations, shooting the better score 18 times to Phil’s 15. They’ve tied four times when playing in the same group.
Woods is 54 under when playing with Mickelson on the PGA TOUR, while Mickelson is 34 under. Woods also leads in victories when the two are grouped together at some point in the event, 10 wins to five.
MAKING EACH OTHER BETTER
Mickelson has frequently talked about how Tiger pushed him to be a better player. The numbers from when they have played together overwhelmingly confirm that statement.
Over the last 15 years, Mickelson has averaged 1.12 strokes gained per round. When playing alongside Woods, that number skyrockets to 2.00 strokes gained per round.
The era from 2005-2014 paints an even more staggering picture. During that span, Phil averaged 1.36 strokes gained per PGA TOUR round. When playing with Woods in that same stretch, that number is almost doubled – to 2.61.
STROKES GAINED TOTAL PER ROUND Woods Mickelson Overall 2.3 1.36 When grouped together 2.37 2.61 * from 2005-2014
How about Mickelson pushing Woods? The statistics aren’t as dramatic, but they do confirm that Woods plays a little bit better when he’s grouped with Lefty.
Since 2005, Woods has averaged 2.01 strokes gained per round average. When grouped with Phil, it rises to 2.17 strokes gained per round.
IN CONTENTION ON SUNDAY
How about when both players have been in contention entering the final round on the PGA TOUR?
There have been 31 instances when both Tiger and Phil have been at or within five shots of the lead going into the final round of a PGA TOUR event. When comparing the numbers from those final round performances, the overall results have been incredibly close.
TIGER AND PHIL BOTH ENTERING THE FINAL ROUND WITHIN 5 OF THE LEAD Woods Mickelson Scoring average 69.84 69.81 Score to par -51 -52 Better round 14 14 Wins 10 9 * - has happened 31 times
Mickelson is 52 under in those situations. Woods is 51 under.
Mickelson’s scoring average is 69.81, three one-hundredths of a stroke better than Woods’ (69.84).
Woods has shot the better score 14 times. Mickelson has shot the better score 14 times. And they’ve tied three times.
Woods has won 10 of those tournaments. Mickelson has won nine – including the last two times it happened in major championships: the 2010 Masters and 2013 Open.
THE BEST OF THEIR GENERATION
Mickelson’s first PGA TOUR win came when he was still an amateur, at the 1991 Northern Telecom Open. Since that day, Woods and Mickelson have won the most (82) and second-most (44) PGA TOUR titles of anybody.
You would need to put together the next six names on the list of most wins since 1991 – Vijay Singh, Dustin Johnson, Ernie Els, Davis Love III, Rory McIlroy and Jim Furyk to add up to 127 – one more win than Woods and Mickelson have in that span.
From 1995 through 2010, there are two players who averaged 2.0 or more strokes gained per round in the major championships: Woods (2.84) and Mickelson (2.02). They ranked first and second in scoring average and score to par in the majors during that time, as well.
The length of each player’s brilliant career should be celebrated, too. Despite not turning pro until mid-1996, Woods tied Nick Price for most PGA TOUR wins in the 1990s, with 15. Mickelson was third on the list, with 13. The pair also rank first and second in PGA TOUR titles since the beginning of 2000 – Tiger with 67, Phil with 31.
While neither player appears to be quite ready to ride off into the sunset, the opportunities to see these two legends competing against one another are running low.
This weekend, golf fans can enjoy the sight of them facing off once again – all for a tremendous charitable cause.
MOST WINS SINCE 1991 Player Wins Tiger Woods 82 Phil Mickelson 44 Vijay Singh 34 Dustin Johnson 20 Ernie Els 19 Davis Love III 19 Rory McIlroy 18