2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson: A Different Phil
Harry How/Getty Images for The Match
Mickelson starts making boring pars.
You worm your way toward the fifth tee box, apologizing to a couple of strangers as you brush up against them, dripping with sweat. It’s not that it’s so hot out here – it’s perfect weather, really – it’s that watching Phil has left you perspiring everywhere. You look at another fan who’s similarly sweating and offer up the question that’s been weighing on your mind: “How the hell is he still wearing that vest?”
Finally, on the fifth hole, Mickelson stops the seasickness.
He hits a solid drive, drops his approach shot right in the middle of the green and two-putts for a routine par. His buddy Jim Furyk would be proud.
Still in the lead, Mickelson understands that there are worse things than making a par right now. On the par-3 sixth, he does it again, finding the middle of the green and two-putting. He misses the green on 7, but chips it tight and again cleans up his par. On 8, he misses a 10-footer for birdie, but taps in for par and on 9, he makes another routine par.
That’s five in a row at this point and you’re not the only one who’s noticed.
Getting a primo spot near the 10th tee, you find yourself close enough to hear Woods tell Mickelson: “Nice par. You’re so boring.”
They each chuckle a bit, but you wonder if Tiger is using some mind games here. Basically, if he calls Phil boring for making pars, maybe that will motivate him to start playing more aggressively, which could in turn harm his chances of winning this tournament.
It’s a subtle stunt, hidden as a jab, and you love hearing it.
But as it turns out, Phil isn’t biting.
He makes par on 10 and another on 11 – nothing to be ashamed of on two of the course’s tougher holes. Same goes for 12, as he gave his birdie putt a decent run, but came up a couple of revolutions short. On 13, he has nearly the exact same shot as the famous one he hit through the trees back in 2010, the last time he won here. The place is buzzing now, the anticipation at its peak for the day. Mickelson swings and his ball just barely nicks one of those trees in his way. Again, he makes par.
Same thing on 14. And 15. And 16. Nothing but pars.
On the 17th tee, the crowd is getting restless. As Mickelson is waiting to tee off, someone in the gallery – uncharacteristic of Augusta National – starts chanting, “Birdie! Birdie! Birdie!” Meanwhile, another spectator, either a Tiger fan or someone who just wants to see a little action, simultaneously starts chanting, “Bogey! Bogey! Bogey!”
They’re both wrong. It’s another routine par for Mickelson, who’s now made par on 13 consecutive holes. That’s the bad news. The good news, though, is that his even-par round still has him tied for the lead. A birdie on the final hole won’t just be his first since No. 3, it will give him a fourth career Masters title.