PGA’s biggest rivalry is back |

PGA’s biggest rivalry is back

Sports Geek
Jeff Sauer
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Jeff Sauer

The most exciting sports attractions take place when opposites and extremes collide.

Such is the case with Tiger and Phil.

With their recent problems hopefully behind them, it’s nice to see both players primed and ready for the 2012 season. With a little help from the golf Gods, we can get right back to watching them resuscitate the reason we became so fascinated with their rivalry in the first place. Nothing in the golf world compares to watching these two guys go toe to toe on Sundays.

I’m sure that commissioner Tim Finchem and the TV networks were thrilled that both players were high on the leader board and paired together two weeks ago at Pebble Beach. Phil carded a 64 on the final day to pick up the win, and Tiger was also in the hunt for most of the tournament, until faltering badly on Sunday – something unheard of back in his prominence. Mickelson played extremely well again last weekend at the Northern Trust Open, finishing in a tie for second.

Both golfers have had their share of personal issues to deal with in recent times, while they try to regain their usual status near the top of the world rankings, albeit their issues are worlds apart.

Mickelson has supported his wife while she was treated for breast cancer, and then again, just weeks later, he did the same with his mother. Shortly afterward, he was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, a condition that no doubt had an effect on his regular golf preparation.

And Woods? Let’s just say his issues are well chronicled, so there’s no point in rehashing them. To his credit, he has now separated himself from a certain crowd that wasn’t exactly leveraging his image or helping his golf game.

First, he dumped his contemptuous, loud-mouthed caddy, Stevie Williams, which was a great starting point. He also disassociated himself from some of his “not exactly role model” cronies, like the Michael Jordans and Charles Barkleys in his life, all while trying to focus on what he does best – swinging a golf club.

For most PGA followers, you’re either a Tiger fan or a Phil fan. There is usually no room in between. This goes way back to before their matters off the golf course ever became a story, back when we measured them by their success on the links only.

Which is where the focus should be going forward, possibly cheering for both of them at times. That’s the great thing about individual sports opposed to team sports – you can cheer for both sides of the rivalry.

Phil has owned Tiger for the past several seasons, but make no mistake about it, Woods is still the player truly chasing greatness here, lurking behind Jack Nicklaus’s record 18 major championships with 14 of his own.

I want to witness Tiger making history, and watch him regain the swagger that made him one of the most compelling sports figures of the modern era, even though I’m a Mickelson guy. Sounds selfish, but I want the best of both worlds.

One more note on Mickelson: There are plenty of reasons why fans jump on his bandwagon in droves, the latest being his decision to skip one of the PGA’s biggest events of the season this upcoming weekend – The Accenture Match Play World Championships – even while he’s riding this astounding hot streak.

The reason? He has a family vacation planned instead.

Enough said.

Jeff Sauer is a longtime western Colorado resident and former Roaring Fork Valley Resident. He can be reached at

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