2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson: Banter
Harry How/Getty Images for The Match
Tiger got the better of Phil.
The general public, the people who only see Tiger on their televisions during final rounds, steely-eyed and focused on winning, probably don’t appreciate his reputation as one of the game’s elite needlers of the current generation. Nobody loves tweaking peers like Woods, who rarely misses an opportunity to prey on someone else’s weakness.
Phil, a world-class needler himself, is a popular target.
Of course, Mickelson puts himself in this situation. A few years ago at the Champions’ Dinner, when Adam Scott was hosting, he served pavlova for dessert. Well, this afforded Mickelson the opportunity to regale all of the former champions about the story behind this merengue-based cake, created in the 1920s when a pastry chef fell in love with a Russian ballerina named Anna Pavlova. Amidst the eye-rolling, then-tournament chairman Billy Payne pulled out his cell phone — a strictly forbidden practice at Augusta National — and looked it up, confirming Mickelson’s tale.
On Tuesday, in a throwback to his first Masters win in 1997, Woods decided to serve cheeseburgers for the main course. These weren’t exactly McDonald’s cheeseburgers, though. He imported the highest quality Kobe beef, as the champions were served humongous half-pound burgers featuring the most flavorful meat they’d ever had.
Mickelson, again trying to prove he’s the smartest man in the room, explained that Kobe beef is really Wagyu beef, from Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture. “There are three big beefs,” he continued. “Matsusaka and Yonezawa are terrific, but I believe this is the third, Omi, which is the oldest beef in Japan.”
Some in the room were impressed at this knowledge. Some feigned being impressed. And then there was Woods, who simply rolled his eyes at Mickelson.
He’d had a feeling Phil would say something like that — and he’d been prepared.
No stranger to spiking a man’s food, Woods was recently outed by NBC broadcaster David Feherty, who told the story of Tiger once spiking his cereal with Ex-Lax, leading to what Feherty referred to as a “Code Brown” on the golf course that day.
Listening to Mickelson’s story, Woods continues eating and, without even looking up, tells him, “You’re right, actually. Great call. It is indeed Omi beef. And you know what, Phil? Yours has a little something extra in it, too.”
To which Mickelson looks at him quizzically, starting to ask, “Why, what else is…” before his voice trails off.
Finally, Tiger looks up, catching Phil’s eye. Big smile on his face, he whispers two words: “Code Brown.”
Needless to say, Mickelson didn’t stick around for the dessert this time.
That was all in good fun, of course, and it’s not like Mickelson or anyone else needed any extra motivation while playing in the final round of the Masters. But maybe, just maybe, revenge is a dish best served without any laxatives.
You’ll soon find out. As the left-hander takes a few practice swings, you consider the fact that this opening tee shot could be a tone-setter. Is he fired up for this? Is he too fired up? Is Tiger the best playing partner for him? Or the worst? He swings and you watch the ball take off.