2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson
Harry How/Getty Images for The Match
2:40 p.m.: Phil Mickelson (-11) and Tiger Woods (-10)
Well, duh. Of course you chose to follow this pairing. So did, apparently, everyone else on the Augusta National property today, as you’ve already overheard a few long-time spectators crowded somewhere not very near the tee box proclaim this to be the largest mass of people for any particular gallery in recent memory, which only makes sense, considering this is the most anticipated pairing in recent memory, as well.
It doesn’t get any bigger than this, really.
The two most prolific stars of the past quarter-century, Woods and Mickelson have combined for 20 career major titles, including eight of ‘em right here at the Masters. You can consider their career-long jockeying a rivalry — even if Woods has claimed the majority of the success — but it speaks to the unpredictable nature of the game that in this, the 84th major championship in which each of them has competed, it is just the fourth time they’ve been paired together in the final round.
The first came at the 1997 PGA Championship, when they each posted 75 after starting that Sunday well out of contention. The second was a bit more momentous, as Woods got the best of his playing partner at the 2001 Masters, clinching the so-called Tiger Slam in the process. And the third was again at the Masters eight years later, when Mickelson posted a 67 and Woods a 68, though neither quite had enough firepower to chase down eventual champion Angel Cabrera.
This one, though, was bound to be special. Mickelson is just a few months shy of turning 50 years old, which would make him the oldest major champion in the game’s storied history. Woods is five years behind him, his career once considered all but over due to injury, now the reigning champion and threatening to tie Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record of six Masters titles.
You never thought this day would happen, not anymore, just as you never thought there would come a day when the two of them are actually friendly. The guys who squared off in “The Match” less than a year-and-a-half ago greet each other on the tee with smiles and handshakes. Stuck in the crowd a lob wedge away from the tee box, you can’t hear what they say to each other, but with all of the applause taking place, they might not be able to hear each other, either.
Tiger is dressed in his traditional black-hat/red-shirt/black-pants combo. Phil is clad in all-black, including an unnecessary vest and pinstriped trousers.
As if you and the thousands of others eagerly awaiting the final pairing aren’t excited enough, there was already news this week about the two of them having a little good-natured banter — with props! — during Tuesday night’s Champions’ Dinner. What is still unclear, though, is who got the better of whom, depending on which story you choose to believe.