Ranking the Tiger/Phil 1-2 finishes
May 20, 2020
By Jim McCabe, PGATOUR.COM
PGA TOUR – The CUT
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson's match-up history
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have shared the PGA TOUR stage for nearly a quarter of a century, and to say they are the two biggest stars of their generation is an understatement. The numbers are overwhelming – a combined 983 PGA TOUR tournaments producing 126 victories, 67 second-place finishes, and countless thrills for golf fans.
More memories will be added Sunday when Woods and Mickelson are showcased in The Match: Champions for Charity, a COVID-19 fundraising tournament alongside a pair of other athletes who know something about sharing their sport’s spotlight – NFL icons Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
OK, it’ll be a fun team event (Mickelson-Brady vs. Woods-Manning) and nothing that hints of fierce competition. Except, there is this: Just seeing Woods and Mickelson in the same setting makes you long for those times when they were in the heat of battle, so why not reminisce on those nine times when they finished 1-2 in a PGA TOUR tournament.
One man’s opinion in which order they rank:
1. 2005 Ford Championship at Doral
Course: Blue Monster, Trump National Doral Miami in Doral, Florida
Winner: Woods at 24 under, one better than Mickelson. (Third place was another four strokes back. This was a true two-man show.)
Through 54 holes: Mickelson on the strength of 64-66-66 was 20 under; Woods, thanks to a third-round 63, was next, at 18 under. The stage, as they say, was set.
Final round: It lived up to the billing and anyone who was there would likely tell you it felt like all 35,000 people in attendance walked all 18 holes with the heavyweights. “It was electric,” said Woods, who went out in 33 to shave a shot off his deficit as Mickelson turned in 34. Woods making birdie at 10 to tie was riveting, but when he reached the green at the 605-yard 12th and made a 27-foot eagle putt to go two in front, the ground shook. Mickelson, however, wasn’t shaken. “I loved it,” said Lefty, “because I want a chance to compete against him at his best.” Mickelson proceeded to birdie the demanding par-3 13th and beguiling par-4 14th to pull even. “That shows you what kind of competitor Phil is,” said Woods. The deciding blow came at the par-4 17th, Woods’ birdie helping him shoot 66 to overtake Mickelson (69).
Why it is memorable: Mickelson was in the midst of arguably his greatest stretch of play. He was the reigning Masters champ and would win the PGA Championship five months later. He led after each of the last three rounds of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, went wire-to-wire at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, then led after the first three rounds at Doral. That’s 10 straight rounds with at least a share of the lead. That it took Woods’ immortal talents to beat him was golf at its best.
Indelible image: On a week when nine of the world’s top 10 were in attendance, it was great theater down to the final drop – a deft 30-foot pitch from light rough at the “Blue Monster” signature, the 18th hole. “It was right in the heart,” said Mickelson of his birdie try to tie. “It was tracking with 3 or 4 feet to go … ” but it slipped wide.
2. 2000 Farmers Invitational
Course: Torrey Pines, San Diego, California
Winner: Mickelson at 18 under; Woods finished second, four shots back.
Through 54 holes: Reaching 16 under, Mickelson led Shigeki Maruyama by two, with Woods tied for fourth at 10 under.
Final round: As wild a Sunday as you could have asked for as the star attractions combined for 13 birdies, two doubles (both by Lefty), and three bogeys. When Woods birdied 12 and 13, he was 15 under and tied with Mickelson, who had doubled the par-3 11th. But Woods’ charge crashed to a halt with bogeys at 14 and 16 to shoot 68, and Mickelson birdied 13, 14, 17 and 18. “Sure, I wanted to beat him,” said Mickelson, who shot 70. “I wasn’t going to hand it to him, even if it looked like I was.”
Why it is memorable: Woods was coming off an improbable Monday finish to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, his sixth straight win, and the hype was off the charts. Mickelson had not won since August of 1998 and as he approached his 30th birthday, he conceded that he felt the pressure. “It was important for me to win again,” Mickelson said. “It was important for me to go head-to-head against the best player in the world and know that I can beat him.”
Indelible image: The interview room on Friday was jam-packed with media members who were there to cover only one story, a possible seventh straight win for Woods. Only Woods was sitting a whopping six behind and one of the co-leaders was the unheralded Kirk Triplett, and reporters clearly were trying to be respectful, side-stepping questions they wanted to ask. Triplett knew it, too, and laughed. “Where’s Tiger?” he said. “Let’s talk about Tiger. That’s why I’m here.”
3. 2001 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard
Course: Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Florida
Winner: Woods at 15-under, with Mickelson one shot back.
Through 54 holes: Woods was the leader, at 12 under, one better than Sergio Garcia. Mickelson was tied for fifth at 8-under.
Final round: A scintillating bogey-free 66 by Mickelson as he closed the gap and pulled even with Woods with a birdie at the par-5 16th. That put the pressure squarely on Woods, who wasn’t exactly a picture of precision with the driver. He nearly went OB left at the 16th, then at 18. Yet again, though, Woods proved saturated in the “it” factor as he somehow made birdie at 16 to tie and 18 to win.
Why it is memorable: This is how unreal the “Tigermania” was in these days. The man had not won any of his first five tournaments of the season (three top 10s and a pair of T-13s) and the media pronounced him to be “in a slump.” The win put a halt to such rubbish; even more importantly, it ignited a run of four wins in five starts, including an unforgettable Masters that gave Woods four consecutive triumphs in major championships. Plus, not lost on Woods was the fact Mickelson had won twice at his expense in 2000. “It was nice to sneak one out on him,” said Woods.
Indelible image: An overhead blimp shot followed the flight of Woods’ last drive of the day, a nasty hook at the 18th that clearly was veering wildly left toward out-of-bounds territory. Then, incredible fate for Woods, who was tied for the lead with Mickelson – the ball bounced and struck a spectator (identified as Tony DeKroub) flush in the neck and his girlfriend could be seen picking up the ball. That was a second piece of good fortune for Woods, as he was entitled to a drop and from 195 yards, he rifled a 5-iron into the breeze to 15 feet. It would be the first of several tournament-winning birdies at Bay Hill’s 18th hole.
Tiger Woods wins 2001 Bay Hill Invitational
4. 2002 U.S. Open
Course: Bethpage Black, Farmingdale, New York
Winner: Woods at 3 under, the lone red number on the final board; Mickelson was next at level par.
Through 54 holes: Woods was 5 under, Sergio Garcia next at 1 under; Mickelson and Jeff Maggert were tied for third at even.
Final round: Three-putt bogeys at the first two holes jolted Woods, but he righted the ship and played his next 13 holes in 2 under to maintain control. Gifted that early momentum, Mickelson squandered it with bogeys at Nos. 4 and 5 and never could he get any closer than two. It was hardly an inspiring finish – Mickelson bogeyed 16 and 17, Woods bogeyed 16 and 18 – which matched the mood of the day, damp and dark. A 49-minute rain delay coupled with 3:30 p.m. local tee times meant the marquee names played the final holes in uncomfortable dusk.
Why it is memorable: Because it was the U.S. Open that introduced us to a beast of a golf course; because it was Woods’ eighth major win and seventh in his last 11 starts; because Woods became the first player since Jack Nicklaus in 1972 to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year; because even the precocious Sergio Garcia begrudgingly praised the mighty Woods, even if he overrated his own chances when he said: “He’s the best, but I plan on getting better and stealing some majors away from him.”
Indelible image: Actually, call it an indelible sound – not the loud roars for a dominating champion, but the even louder ones for a guy who was now 0-for-40 in the major championships. “I have never seen a crowd behind a player the way they were today with Phil,” Maggert said. Indeed, this was the week New York decided it was in love with Phil Mickelson.
5. 2009 TOUR Championship
Course: East Lake GC, Atlanta
Winner: Mickelson at 9 under, with Woods second at 6 under.
Through 54 holes: Kenny Perry led at 8 under, two shots better than Woods, while Mickelson and Sean O’Hair were tied for third at 4 under.
Final round: Should you need to define “flawless,” you might want to start with this gem by Mickelson. His bogey-free 65 featured four birdies on the front nine as he left everyone chasing his dust. Equally impressive on the back, even if he did make just one birdie (No. 16) Mickelson was two better than the next-best round on a day when only seven of 30 competitors broke par. Woods bogeyed No. 1, added another bogey at the 13th, with his only birdies coming at the 15th and 16th holes.
Why it is memorable: Barring improbable circumstances (Mickelson is closing in on age 50, of course, and Woods is 44), it might go down as the ninth and final time these icons finished 1-2.
Indelible image: The two biggest stars of their generation stood side-by-star, glistening trophies in their hands. Mickelson owned crystal for winning the TOUR Championship; Woods embraced the FedExCup trophy. Awkward? Not to Mickelson. “I like the way today went. I was two back of him. I beat him by three. He gets a $10 million check and I get $1 million (actually, $1.35 million). I’ve got no problem with that. I just love holding this.”
6. 1998 Sentry Tournament of Champions
Course: LaCosta CC, Carlsbad, California
Winner: Mickelson at 17 under; Woods was T-2, at 16 under.
Through 54 holes: Mickelson was the sole leader at 13 under. David Duval was 12 under, John Cook and Nick Price both 11 under. Woods was tied for seventh, five shots behind Mickelson.
Final round: When Mickelson stood on the seventh tee, he heard a roar. Woods had eagled the par-5 ninth to go out in 31 and at 13 under he was just one behind the lefthander. “My mind-set changed,” Mickelson said later. “I knew I had to attack.” Woods got to 14 under with a birdie at the 10th, momentarily pulling even with Mickelson. But Mickelson’s attack plan worked; he made birdies at the ninth, 10th, 12th and 13th to get to 18 under. Woods played his last eight holes in just 2-under and couldn’t catch Mickelson, whose sloppy bogey at the 18th made it appear tighter than it was.
Why it is memorable: Hard to believe, but the spotlight had been thrust upon young major-winners in 1996 and 1997, guys named Woods and Justin Leonard and Ernie Els. “For me not to be competing on (their level) was disappointing,” Mickelson said. With a closing 64, Woods had his share of media attention after and was asked about his rival being without a major championship win. “That will come very shortly. There’s no doubt about that,” said Woods.
Indelible image: After his 12th career win, Mickelson said his wife, Amy, needed a new car. She told Phil that he should just “win the Mercedes,” but he didn’t like that sort of pressure. So, he walked into a showroom and bought her a car, one week before he held off Woods to win the Mercedes, which offered a new car as part of the prize.
7. 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship
Course: TPC Boston, Norton, Massachusetts
Winner: Mickelson at 16 under; Woods, at 14 under tied for second with Brett Wetterich and Aaron Oberholser.
Through 54 holes: Wetterich led at 13 under, one ahead of Oberholser, with Mickelson third at 11 under and Woods next at 10 under.
Final round: Paired together in the penultimate group, the megastars both talked of not forgetting that Wetterich and Oberholser were in the mix in this, the second tournament of the FedExCup era. The crowd, however, didn’t seem to think that way. “We had a Nationwide Tour gallery,” quipped Oberholser, conceding that the show was clearly in front of him all day. But even Woods would confess that the spotlight belonged to Mickelson. Lefty went out in 32 to get four strokes ahead of his arch-rival and neither player in the final group applied much pressure. (Oberholser shot 69, Wetterich 70.) Though Mickelson doubled the par-4 12th, he matched Woods’ birdies at 16 and 18 to protect his two-stroke cushion.
Why it is memorable: It was the sixth time Woods and Mickelson were paired together in the fourth round of a tournament and for the first time, Lefty posted a lower score (66 to 67). “The next thing will be to pair up with him and do it in a major,” said Mickelson. (He’s still waiting for that opportunity.)
Indelible image: Mickelson’s festive week in Boston included a Saturday night game at Fenway Park with wife Amy and their three young children. Insisting he is a proponent of staying the entire game and even then “20 or 30 minutes more, just to let things die down and kind of relax,” Mickelson and his family were richly rewarded when unheralded Red Sox righthander Clay Buchholz fired a no-hitter against the Orioles.Tiger Woods & Phil Mickelson during the second round at TPC Boston in 2007. (J. Rogash/Getty Images)
8. 2000 TOUR Championship
Course: East Lake CC, Atlanta
Winner: Mickelson at 13 under, with Woods second at 11 under.
Through 54 holes: Woods and Vijay Singh shared the lead at 10 under, with Mickelson one shot back.
Final round: Give Mickelson credit, he was prophetic. Loved his position, he said, because he could make birdies out in front that Woods and Singh would be forced to match. But who knew it would happen that quickly? A Mickelson birdie at the first and a Woods bogey at the third put the lefthander into a lead he did not relinquish. Mickelson, with four birdies on the front nine, shot 66, while Woods closed with 69.
Why it is memorable: Woods had not coughed up at least a share of the 54-hole lead since his rookie season, September of 1996. But in this season of nine victories, let the record show that twice Woods was beaten down the stretch, by Mickelson at Torrey Pines and here at East Lake, and the value to his confidence was priceless. “I did not really expect him to win. I thought I had a pretty good chance,” said Mickelson.
Indelible image: Vintage Mickelson, waxing romantically about Bobby Jones to leave East Lake members teary-eyed. “I feel like I’m part of Bobby Jones’ legacy,” he gushed, “and there’s another hometown even of his two hours away that I’d like to be part of.” His dream came true, but not until four years later when he won his first Masters.
9. 1999 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Course: Firestone CC, Akron, Ohio
Winner: Woods at 10 under; Mickelson was second, at 9 under
Through 54 holes: At 11 under, Woods had a five-shot lead over Fred Couples and Nick Price, with Mickelson at 4 under, tied for fifth.
Final round: On a day when only four players broke par – there were two 69s, a 68, and the magic produced by Mickelson, a seven-birdie- 65. He had five in the first seven holes and from out of nowhere he was in contention. A birdie at the 11th got Mickelson to 10 under, but chances for a startling victory evaporated when he bogeyed the par-5 16th and par-4 18th. Woods, meanwhile, slipped home a 15-foot downhill putt at 17 to pull two in front and a bogey at the 18th gave him a 71 and one-shot victory.
Why it is memorable: It is the season when “Tigermania” hit another level and this was the fifth of his eight wins. Just two weeks earlier, Woods had won the PGA Championship and when he held on to beat Mickelson at Firestone, it set in motion a four-tournament winning streak to end 1999 that carried over to 2000 when he won two more to make it six in a row.
Indelible image: Each man received what was at the time their largest paychecks for a single tournament -- $1 million for Woods, $510,000 for Mickelson. Neither seemed impressed. “It means I’m a million richer,” shrugged Woods. “I need to get a little tougher on the last few holes,” sighed Mickelson.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson swing compilation 1991-2018