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PGA Championship 2022: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson reverse roles one 12 months after Lefty’s surprising win

It is inconceivable to consider Tiger Woods taking part in the 2022 PGA Championship and never think about the absence of his most-heralded up to date, Phil Mickelson. It is also inconceivable to consider both of them and never think about how absurd it might have been to insinuate, 51 weeks in the past after Mickelson gained the 2021 occasion, that Tiger can be the one getting early prep work at Southern Hills whereas Lefty continued a months-long sabbatical for non-health causes.

The 2 have at all times been as intertwined as they have been contrasting. Literal books have been written concerning the topic, and you may checklist the methods through which they’re polar opposites nearly reflexively. They make oil and water appear appropriate.

Tiger, right-handed, is singular and ever the loner. Mickelson, left-handed, is nearly unable to be understood outdoors the context of at all times having individuals round him. Tiger is conservative and nearly understated on the course. Mickelson is, uh, not. Tiger pushed his physique to the restrict, and it betrayed him. Mickelson has not often missed time because of damage. For those who drew up up to date rivals this divergent, no one would consider you.

Their solely frequent bond has been success: successful, creating wealth and doing it for an awfully very long time. As their friends have aged into different golf lives past the PGA Tour, they’ve each exuded enduring excellence. Regardless of a mixed age of 97, Woods and Mickelson have each gained main championship trophies extra not too long ago than Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. That is a fully outstanding feat for anybody, a lot much less two guys who began taking part in PGA Tour occasions when their youthful friends have been in diapers (or not but born).

Mickelson was treading water this time final 12 months. He went into the week of the 2021 PGA Championship and not using a high 20 end since August 2020. He was taking part in dangerous golf and had extra missed cuts (three) than high 25s (two) within the seven occasions main into the second main of that 12 months. When he went to Kiawah Island, he was a champion in title solely (and an amazing one at that), and but he did the one factor that week that he’d accomplished for the earlier three a long time. He confirmed up. He went to the primary tee on Thursday and believed one thing particular was going to occur. It was a comically deluded degree of self-belief, to make sure, however it additionally labored.

This time 52 weeks in the past, you’d have howled on the concept of Mickelson successful that PGA. You’d most likely have known as for my job had I predicted it. And also you would have been proper to take action. Then, impossibly, Lefty took down Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen at a venue constructed for males half his age.

Woods, in the meantime, was merely making an attempt to stroll this time final 12 months. He not too long ago recounted days in his yard the place he laid on the turf listening to the birds chirp, merely elated to be alive.

That is how they each function. Tiger takes time away to recuperate and reveals up when he is prepared. Lefty by no means stops exhibiting up. His win rely is in some methods a struggle of attrition. Woods has proven up rather a lot lower than Mickelson over the course of his profession (present worldwide event rely goes to Mickelson, 712-419), however he is gained much more when he is been there (22% to 7% for Tiger).

Phil’s nice talent is exhibiting up. Tiger’s is decimating the sphere when he does.

The again half of Tiger’s story is the alternative of Phil’s. When Woods performed, he was nice. That is at all times been true. He is by no means actually had intervals of poor play over the past 25 years. He is had loads of intervals of not play in any respect, although, for quite a lot of causes together with however not restricted to damage, scandal, restoration and easily eager to be together with his household greater than eager to carry out for a sports activities nation.

As Mickelson saved showing, Woods saved vanishing.

Now, it is Lefty who has not been heard from in months. The distinction continues with Mickelson and Woods, besides they’ve fully exchanged roles. As with Tiger final 12 months, we do not know when Lefty will resurface, once we will hear from him once more, if we are going to hear from him once more. There is a tragedy to Mickelson’s story with which Woods can certainly establish.

What we do know is which you could’t win in case you do not contend, and you may’t contend in case you do not present up. If Mickelson taught us something about traditionally nice gamers on the PGA Championship final 12 months, it was precisely that.

Woods is exhibiting up on the PGA Championship the identical approach Mickelson confirmed up ultimately 12 months’s occasion: with no likelihood of successful. He is exhibiting up as a result of one thing would possibly occur. He is exhibiting up as a result of he loves golf and takes his standing as a champion of this occasion critically.

Woods claims he would not present up to play until he believes he has an opportunity to win, however there’s nothing about his recreation over the past 18 months or his efficiency on the Masters that will recommend he even has a prayer.

Then once more, that very same sentence might have been written about Mickelson this time a 12 months in the past.

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