2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson: Vintage Tiger
Harry How/Getty Images for The Match
Long and straight in the fairway.
Even during his historic Masters win last year — his first major championship in over a decade — Woods never seemed like the clear-cut choice to win until the last few holes. He didn’t dominate as he’d done at so many other majors in the past. Instead, he waited for everyone else to make a mistake and one by one — from Francesco Molinari to Tony Finau to Brooks Koepka — each one of them did.
This, however, looks like a different Tiger.
This looks like a player who isn’t content to let others make the mistakes. This is a guy who’s wholly focused on going out there and taking this title, rather than letting it come to him.
The opening drive is just the start. He follows by firing a dart to five feet and converting his birdie putt. The second hole par-5 is a routine two-putt birdie. He manages par on the third and fourth holes but gets another birdie on 5, par on 6 and 7, and then two more birdies on 8 and 9.
You can see it now: All those guys you follow on social media are using that Vince Carter GIF, indicating this thing is over — and they aren’t wrong. You’ve been watching every step of the way and Tiger has been nothing short of brilliant. His front-nine 31 is two shots better than anyone else in the field today and he’s already opened up a three-stroke lead at the turn.
You’re so happy you chose to walk among the masses and follow this final pairing. You’d considered either of the pairings before this one, assuming less congestion outside the ropes and better vantage points to watch the proceedings, but there is all sorts of history unfolding right before your eyes.
Not only does Woods look like he’s on the verge of a sixth career Masters title, tying Jack Nicklaus for the most all time, but he would move himself to within two of the Golden Bear’s major championship record of 18 — once considered a foregone conclusion for Woods to break, later considered an impossibility.
He’s not setting this history with kid gloves, either. Tiger has been throwing haymakers and landing ‘em everywhere. He didn’t miss a fairway on the front nine, his drives long and straight, that post-swing club twirl ubiquitous after each one of ‘em. His iron play has been just as proficient, if not better, hitting all nine greens in regulation. And his putting has been near-perfect. If there’s any sort of critique to his play so far, it’s that he might’ve left a few out there, leaving mid-range putts hanging on the edge on both the fourth and seventh holes.
With everything going right for him so far, it feels like there are only a few possibilities that could make his successful title defense even sweeter.