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« State Of The Game, Episode 3: "The game's never been easier and people have never complained more about how hard it is." | Main | Shock: The Donald In Feud With Politicians Who Approved His Scottish Course »
Sunday
Feb122012

Wrap-Up: Phil Romps In Sunday Showdown

Doug Ferguson's AP lede for the 2012 AT&T National Pro-Am:

Phil Mickelson went from a six-shot deficit to a two-shot lead in just six holes, closed with an 8-under 64 for a two-shot victory over Charlie Wi and gave Tiger Woods a thrashing at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Sunday not many saw coming.

Bob Harig, writing for ESPN.com:

That was fun, wasn't it? Maybe not for Tiger Woods. Well, absolutely not for Tiger, who couldn't get off the Monterey Peninsula fast enough and might not be back at Pebble Beach until the 2019 U.S. Open.

But big picture, the Tiger-Phil dynamic, is as good as any 17-Mile Drive vista. Phil Mickelson more than lived up to his end Sunday during the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National, Woods did not.

Just having them in the same group -- even if the amateurs were an unsightly nuisance during the final round -- was a welcome occurrence, one not to be taken for granted.

Steve Elling on Phil's ability to feed off rounds with Tiger.

After getting routinely drilled by Woods in their head-to-head pairings for over a decade, the sea change came in 2007 when Lefty's swing coach, Butch Harmon, who previously had tutored Woods for years, clued in Mickelson to some of the mental gymnastics Woods had been pulling on him over the years.

Ever since, Mickelson has rewritten the script entirely, amassing an 8-3-1 mark in terms of their lowest score in the past dozen times they have been paired. Mickelson actually smirked when asked if Harmon's psychological warfare counsel about Woods helped.

"Possibly," Mickelson said, coyly.

Being a complete adrenaline junkie, playing with Woods is like sticking his tongue in a light socket.

Kevin Merfeld says there were many differences between Phil and Tiger Sunday, but the contrast was most striking on the greens.

But Mickelson also buried Woods - and stayed ahead of the rest of the field - with par saving putts of 31 feet (on No. 12) and 38 feet (No. 15).

"I just feel like I'm putting like I did when I was a kid, without the thoughts and the mind clutter," Mickelson said. "I was trying to make, and believed I was going to make, those 30-and 40 footers."

Ron Kroichick notes that with this win, Phil Mickelson moves into rarified company.

This win was No. 40 of his PGA Tour career, breaking a tie with Tom Watson and Cary Middlecoff and vaulting Mickelson into sole possession of ninth place on the all-time list.

Or, in our little corner of the world, consider this: His haul in the Crosby-turned-AT&T puts him above any player not named Mark O'Meara, who won the tournament five times. Mickelson had been tied with Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller - they could play a little - with three wins each.

Gene Wojciechowski on the post round heckling for Tiger:

The heckler's voice somehow cut through the Sunday noise from the 25-deep gallery, the champagne-and-cheese crowd in the luxury suites and the folks seated in the grandstands that curl around the 18th green at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

"Hey, Tiger," said the man, leaning toward the railing of the reserved seats, "you'll never be as good as Phil!"

A smattering of boos silenced the heckler. Meanwhile, the stone-faced Woods didn't break stride as he walked toward the scorer's trailer to record a brutally disappointing 3-over-par, final-round 75 to finish tied for 15th in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The only thing missing was yellow police tape around Woods' scorecard.

John Strege wonders what's gone wrong with Tiger:

Pre-scandal, it would reflexively have been attributed to the rogue bad day in a sea of brilliant ones. But this was the second straight tournament that he was unable to conjure the Sunday magic that gave him an aura of invincibility. Two weeks earlier, at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Champions, Woods shared the 54-hole lead with Robert Rock, who beat him by two.

"He hasn't been stacking confidence on top of confidence," CBS Sports' Nick Faldo noted on Sunday.

PGATour.com's Brian Wacker on Tiger's struggles:

Whether it was with his putting -- he missed seven putts from inside 10 feet, including three from inside 3 feet -- or his iron play -- he hit just nine greens in regulation, easily his fewest all week -- Woods never gave himself a chance.

"It was frustrating," said Woods, who began the tie in a tie for second and ended it tied for 15thafter a disastrous 75 that included three straight bogeys to close out the front nine. "I was looking for 2-3 under though the first six or seven holes, and Phil is the one who got off to that start.

"I thought I had a chance to get up there in the middle of the round and instead I went the other way."

And how.

It's not all bad for Tiger, as Steve DiMeglio reports in his game story that Phil sees hope for Tiger's game.

Woods, who last won on the Tour in 2009, was thoroughly beaten in the final round, but Mickelson sees better days ahead for the former No. 1.

"Watching him play today, it's going to change in one week," Mickelson said. "He used to hit a hook, you were waiting for it, and now he's just striping it right at his target with a tiny little fade just like he used to do. And his iron play looked extremely sharp. I know the score wasn't what he wanted and I know he didn't putt the way he wanted to, but you could tell that he's really close and all it takes is one week."

Here's a golf.com photo gallery from the final round. I don't think Tiger will be bookmarking this one.

And the results, including the all important FedExCup points for this week.

The final round highlights:

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Reader Comments (53)

Tiger is quickly becoming one of golf's most prolific choke artists. Who'd have thought?

He's also deteriorated from being the best putter in the game to being worse than average among peers on the tour.

So, when does comeback #8 begin? The next time he gets a putting tip from "Stricks"?
02.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob
Try to cheer up.
02.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Clayman
Well at least this week Tiger got beat by someone who is a major winner. But I am sure he is close, even Peter Kostis said so!
02.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterA3
Tom Watson circa 1987 comes to mind when watching Tiger right now...
02.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Damn!!! Phil spanked Tiger head to head...SPANKED HIM! Another 3 out of 4 decent days for the former world#1...I tend to agree he's not far off, too bad he only plays once or twice a month at the most.

After seeing the relevant highlights...I think that this proves beyond a shadow of a doubt the old saying that "Karma is a Motherf****r!" Tiger got it started off by complaining (as usual) about the greens because he expects everything to be perfect as control freaks usually do...Phil seemed at ease and appeared to accept that the bumps can actually help as much as they hurt and having his wife cheering him on only made it that much more evident to anyone paying attention.

BTW...would it kill Tiger to hit those jogging shoes with a coat black paint or something? With slacks they look FUGLY!
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Someone pinch me.
Enjoyed watching Phil's play-thought his shot into 13 was sublime-but how do you guys put up with that tv coverage week in week out?!That was horrendous!!
On a different topic-Westwood's putting is just awful too-he should have won Dubai at a canter.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterbonnie banks
I guess that he is physically OK and it looks like he hits a lot of good shots so the six inches between the ears must be weak. Earl used to cover that. He needs a new "Earl". I want to see if he can make 18, not have it end this way.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGate74
14 Majors,

When you're done shining my shoes Phil...
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterhighside
Both Phil and Robert Rock walked on the first tee and said to themselves, there is no way I am getting beat by someone wearing those shoes.
Rick Reilly tweeted "Tiger's shoes are from the new Air Nurse line from Nike." Mars Blackmon has lost his way over at Nike.
How do we put up with coverage?

Me, I watch with a laptop on with the volume on very low.

Blank out the screen whenever commercials or ceos or blimps come on. Sometimes play a podcast and mute.

Got it down to a science. An advertisers worse nightmare.

Saturday, didn't even bother to watch, what a crock.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Hawkeye- Well said about the Watson comparison.
Tiger won a lot of majors with brilliant putting.
When that no longer is a sure thing, the game gets vastly harder for him.
The great equalizer after 30 something
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjjshaka
TW made only one scrambling par (once his calling card and for his opponents, a dagger to the heart), the 15 footer at #10 to stop the avalanche after 3 straight bogeys at 7, 8, & 9. As the great Henry Longhurst would have said, "The rot has set in". If not for that 15-footer, and the holed bunker shot at #12, the crash could have been much worse. TW's game was actually listing closer to 79 than it was to shooting 69. He settled somewhere in the middle with a passive and non-descript 75. Even for a champion like TW, it will require an enormous amount of mettle for him to pick himself up and get back to work on the "process". Two things that don't last - dogs chasing cars, and pros putting for pars! "Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio?"
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTheProFromDover
@ No longer used to be S & T Convert

As Mars would say, "It's gotta be da shoes!"

@ johnnycz Don't you think that NIKE could afford to make him a black pair of those shoes? I bet there is a offensive lineman at Oregon with a black pair.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTheProFromDover
Anyone else notice how much more deliberate and mechanical Tiger seemed this weekend? He was backing off of a fair amount of shots, and just did not seem comfortable. I understand all of the practice swings yesterday, because he was clearly not in a groove, but he was doing the same thing Saturday as well. For a second, I thought that I was watching Kevin Na...hopefully Tiger will not start having Joey line up his putts for him from behind.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKC
@highside,

Mickelson even said that in his presser. He knows the score is 14-4, but hey, a win is a win.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterraggededge
Does anybody actually know these "tips" that Butch gave to Philly Mc? I've heard it talked about before, but I can't recall anything specific, except for maybe a "walk ahead of him in the fairways" or something like that.
Woods has a black pair of the Nike Free golf shoes. For some reason, he stopped wearing them mid-round at the Chevron and has worn the white ones ever since.

It was Woods who asked Nike to turn the shoes he used for running into golf shoes that would have less stress on his body.

They are one of the ugliest golf shoes I have ever seen. Up there with the sandle-type golf shoes that are worn with socks - I think Mike McCullough on the seniors tour wore those.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commentersgolfer
If I'm not mistaken there were at least 6 players tied with or ahead of Phil but somehow this boils down to nothing more than a Phil vs. Tiger showdown? It is stunning to think that even a gagging Ken Duke got it around a shot better than Tiger. ProFromDover, those two 35-foot par putts by Phil on the back 9 were pretty nice, Huh?
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHuh?
@champagnetony The "tips" are things like, he putts out, and he walks second to the tee. I am the biggest driver of the Phil is terminally underrated train, but if stuff like Tiger putting out (um doesn't every pro, if you're close, we want more marking of short putts now?) and walking 2nd to the tee, was putting him off that's pretty sad.

Phil played great, after an average day on Saturday and he loves this tournament. Tiger played terribly yesterday, after playing well on Saturday.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterelf
It's not that he lost - Phil was unstoppable yesterday, as he is when the planets align - but it's how he lost. Zero fight. As many above have noted, no grinding at all. The don't-give-a-crap 3 putt on the last was so un-Tiger like. Not only don't the putts fall anymore but the wedges are horrible. He's so steep he should be hitting those best. Strange thing is he hit 10 fairways - and two of the missed ones were fine - but from the short grass, only nine greens. That's what is really disturbing. Under pressure, he's folding.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAK47
@ Huh? Now that is what we are talking about! Two incredible up-and-downs at a time where it looked like he might lose a stroke, or in the case at #12 - two shots. Instead he plays them in level par while TW gains no strokes when you could have bet the house he would pick up at least a total of 3 shots on those two holes - you could have broken Vegas OTB houses. Huge momentum deflaters for TW. PM kept the pressure on and was in total command. The gimme biridie at #13 in front of TW when TW had driven it itno a divot; the in-your-face biride at #14 while TW struggled and made 6; the par save at #15, and the coup de grace birdie at #18 were all part of massacre. The question is; "have they released the body yet?"
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTheProFromDover
@ AK47 As they say back home; "he folded like a $1.98 suitcase in the rain." You bet he did. All of the fight was taken out of TW when he lipped it out on #7 after watching PM throw it into passing gear and go -5 through the first 6 holes. The first dagger that hit a vital organ was the near dunk / gimme duece at the par 3, #5. That hit a major nerve and he couldn't muster a counter charge. Never saw TW appear to be so 'soft'.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTheProFromDover
No Longer... -- Love the "Air Nurse" line for Tiger's shoes, even if it came from Reilly. They certainly do have a convalescent look to them, and could do well in the burgeoning Retirement Home Golf Community market.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSqueaky
Suddenly, out of the blue this weekend, I was thinking of the 80s band Glass Tiger. I supposed Abu Dhabi and Pebble had something to do with that.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commentersgolfer
ProFromDover, taking Tiger out of the equation, because he was not a factor anymore at the time, those two up and downs consisted of a couple of bladed skulls followed by sheer luck twice in a row, but they were incredible. Wi was unlucky to not be in a playoff.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHuh?
Three years ago? Everyone would be saying that Tiger's new kicks are so totally bitchin' far out. Man can't catch a break.
@KYG -

The man could have won every PGA, Euro Tour, Hooters Tour, Sunshine Tour event ever held in the history of man ... it would not make those shoes look any better.

How are your new "True Tours" working out? I'll be trying mine out in about 2.5 months.
Interestingly from a couple people on the ground, felt like Tiger was trying to hard, especially over putts, oppisote of phoning it in. Think the more you want and expect it, the harder it is sometimes. Think back to the 2006 Masters, when Tiger couldn't buy a putt on the back 9. He really wanted to win that one for his dad.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterelf
I'm sad for some reason Tiger isn't doing as well as he used to. I expected it but it's no fun to watch. I wish for Tiger a full, decent, and honest life and if working to get better and accomplishing much in golf (winning majors esp.) helps him in this, then great. But, if Tiger wins majors and doesn't add real value to himself and his loved ones, then what's the point? So, here's to you Tiger: Good luck! You have your defenders and detractors -- none of them matter as much as what you leave behind that makes for a more beautiful world. I wish for Tiger a peaceful and contented heart. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Tiger were more remembered for what kind of man he became (ala Byron Nelson) than his golfing prowess. To me, the former matters greatly; the latter, hardly at all. For Tiger's achievements in golf, while important way and mightily noteworthy (in a categorical way), in the end, if that's all he's done, is nothing really. I'm signing off from my periodic visits to this web site. It's been little fun here and there, but really a waste of time for me. Time to move on to others pursuits. Cheers all!
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterArthur
Arthur, it would be nice...but has Woody shown any signs of being a better person??
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterchcago pt
"I wish for Tiger a peaceful and contented heart. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Tiger were more remembered for what kind of man he became..."

thank you Ravi Shankar.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterrb
TW is on the back side of his career, sure he'll win a few here and there; he barely finished in the top 10 of a B grade PGT event.
@ Huh? It may have made for good theater, and you have a point that those two putts were HUGE! But I am reminded of an old saying, "If if's and buts were candy and nuts, it would Christmas year round!" What happens only counts when it actually happens. Who knows how that may have changed things - On the matter of "if's and buts' , what about Wi's 4-putt on the first hole? That was a game changer at the onset. And of course he then birdies 16, 17, &18 to finish 2nd alone with virtually no heat on him to win- by that time is was 'game over' for him as far as winning was concerned. The guy the two PM putts may have affected most at the time was Streelman - he finished bogey, bogey, double. He was lurking at -13 through 15 holes!
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTheProFromDover
What's more surprising?

Phil shot a 64?

Or Tiger choked with a 75?

Don't forget one of golf's Oldest Acronyms and Axioms: TCWWCT.

Tiger Can't Win Without Cheap Trim.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark
Please rb. This is a golf site. Ravi Sh***ar.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
He knows that we know ....
02.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer
Sorry to all the tiger bashers, but 6 months ago, it looked like TW was so bad with his swing that even a top 20 finish was considered a long shot....he looked that lost.

Now, in 3 tournaments the last two months, he has given himself a shot on Sunday to win... a far cry from his pathetic finishes the last two years.

So while he may not be all the way back, compared to how he looked 6 months ago, I am impressed, since, I, like a lot of you thought he would never even contend.

If we extrapolate his recent ascendancy and think to augusta where he likes the fast putting surfaces and knows the nuances, does anyone here care to bet that he won't finish top 5?

Come on detractors, put your money where your big mouths are.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterthe preacher
Sorry to all the tiger bashers, but 6 months ago, it looked like TW was so bad with his swing that even a top 20 finish was considered a long shot....he looked that lost.

Now, in 3 tournaments the last two months, he has given himself a shot on Sunday to win... a far cry from his pathetic finishes the last two years.

So while he may not be all the way back, compared to how he looked 6 months ago, I am impressed, since, I, like a lot of you thought he would never even contend.

If we extrapolate his recent ascendancy and think to augusta where he likes the fast putting surfaces and knows the nuances, does anyone here care to bet that he won't finish top 5?

Come on detractors, put your money where your big mouths are.
02.13.2012 | Unregistered Commenterthe preacher
@Ghost -

Maybe so, maybe so ... but even if he is (reaching the sunny side), his front 9 has been better than anything we're gonna see for a LONG time.

That was some painful stuff to watch though (TWs Sunday) ... even though I called it (to the wife) on Saturday that TW wasn't likely to win. The chips (and his putting stance/balance) just look funny to my untrained eye ... not to mention the 9i and wedge shots that are so steep ... he looks all hunched over and jammed.

Great win by Philly Mc though - he's got more talent than almost all of 'em put together.

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