Fans hoped something great would emerge from the pairing of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson during the final round of the Masters. But if you looked at it with a clear head, you couldn’t expect much from the pairing we’ve spent more than a decade awaiting.
They’ve never had a memorable duel playing together, and even if they played well at Augusta, they were seven strokes behind the leaders. Even Greg Norman never blew a seven-stroke lead in a major.
Besides, Tiger never won a major from even one stroke back. To expect miracles out of the guy was asking a lot. As for Phil, he's never exactly been cool under pressure.
As it turned out, neither Tiger nor Phil won. But they sure did put on a show, didn’t they? For five hours on Easter Sunday, while Chad Campbell, Angel Cabrera and Ken Perry played to a relative handful of spectators — patrons, as they like to call them at Augusta National.
“It was fun,” Mickelson said afterward. “We’ve had some good matches in the past. I’ve usually been on the wrong end of it. It’s fun playing with him. I’ve always enjoyed it.”
The patrons at Augusta aren’t your usual major championship yahoo spectators. The Masters is the only major that doesn’t move from course to course and town to town. Much of the crowd is made up of people who have held their tickets for decades, if not generations. They don’t go crazy for any shot that hits the green or any putt that stops within six feet of the hole. They know the game, and they behave accordingly.
Good choice. For once, reality almost converged with wild dreams. On the front, Phil was hitting everything while Tiger was saving par from everywhere. Then on eight, Tiger holed a long putt for eagle and suddenly both of them were closing in on those little-known leaders.
OK, so they didn’t quite pull it off. Lefty ultimately did what Lefty does, dumping one in the creek on 12 and then forgetting how to putt down the stretch. And Tiger finally blinked on 17, dropping his first stroke of the day and any chance of winning.
But neither of the game's two biggest names had to win to make it great theater. Yes, Mickelson actually could have won the tournament if he’d kept his ball dry and made some putts, but you can’t say he collapsed. Both he and Tiger were on mission: impossible. It was enough that they almost pulled it off.
And when they were done, there was still plenty of time to run back and watch the leaders stumble and stagger to the finish line — and two holes beyond it.
Past Masters champions
From Horton Smith to Bubba Watson, take a look at every golfer who has won at the Masters.
Tiger vs. Phil
Take a look at every time Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been paired together.
The 73rd Masters
Cabrera wins 3-way playoff
Latest golf video
Golfer apologizes for ‘fried chicken’ comment
Pro Golfer Sergio Garcia apologized for commenting that he would serve fried chicken if Tiger Woods came over for dinner.
Top 10 'accessible' golf courses
From California to Florida, these amazing greens are open for anyone to play.