2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson: Following Lefty


Harry How/Getty Images for The Match

Root for Phil — and only Phil — the rest of the way.

You’ve always thought there was a viable analogy between Tiger and Phil and two of their legendary predecessors. Tiger is, like Jack Nicklaus, the greatest player of his generation. That remains indisputable. Phil is more Arnold Palmer, beloved for his swashbuckling style of play and interactions with fans.

Granted, it isn’t a perfect analogy — Mickelson isn’t as beloved as The King, though to be fair, few athletes ever were — but it works. You’re thinking about this on the third hole, just as you’re deciding which player to cheer for during the rest of the round.

And herein lies your conclusion: It’s more fun to root for the underdog.

That would be both the figurative underdog and the literal one, as despite leading after three rounds, Mickelson was +160 to win the tournament to Woods’ +125.

If nothing else, you’ll get more acknowledgment from Phil than Tiger. Whereas the latter usually offers just a casual wave to nobody specifically, in the 10 holes since you decided to root for Phil, you’ve already received a thumbs-up and a hearty nod. That might not sound like much, but you better believe you’ll be telling all your golf buddies about Mickelson giving you his trademark thumbs-up during the final round of the Masters. That’ll get ‘em good and jealous.

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After the par-5 13th hole, Mickelson and Woods are tied atop the leaderboard, with a quartet of players just one stroke further back.

That changes quickly, when Mickelson — your guy – sticks an approach to five feet on 14 and makes birdie against Woods’ bogey. “Let’s go, Phil! You got this, Phil! I love you, Phil!” you scream as he walks in your direction toward the 15th tee box. Forget the thumbs-up from earlier. This time he offers a smile and a fist-bump, the knuckles on your right hand banging against the glove-covered knuckles on his right hand.

A birdie and three pars later, and your new favorite golfer — hell, let’s go ahead and say it, since he doesn’t fist-bump just anyone — your new friend Mickelson clinches the Masters title for a fourth time.

Afterward, your voice is so hoarse that you can barely even speak anymore. It doesn’t matter that you entered the day indifferent to which player would win. You ended it as the world’s biggest Phil fan — and it didn’t end for a while. Heading back to the merchandise tent for one more purchase, you pick up a yellow flag that says “MASTERS 2020” on it. You hang out during the Butler Cabin ceremony, during the outdoor ceremony and during all of his media obligations. Finally, in the gloaming, Mickelson comes over to sign autographs for the remaining fans.

As he grabs your flag, he looks you in the eye and says, “You’re not going to put this on eBay, right?”

“I would never do that, Phil,” you reply. “This was the best day of my life.”

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