2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson: Way Left


Harry How/Getty Images for The Match

It goes left of the fairway. Like, wayyy left.

Same ol’ Lefty. One swing into the round and you already know it’s going to be one of those kinds of days, the type where he’s all over the ballpark from start to finish.

That doesn’t necessarily mean bad things, though. He’s never been a very accurate driver of the golf ball, but it hasn’t hurt him here at Augusta National, where he owns three victories and a dozen other top-10 finishes. We can argue whether he’s posted this impressive record over the years because this tournament means so much to him or whether this course sets up so well for him, but the truth is, it’s probably some combination of the two.

You wade through the massive crowd to the right of the hole, where none of you have a very good look at whatever Phil is doing amongst those trees over there. The observations from the gallery would be hilarious in any other situation that wasn’t so tense.

“He’s definitely punching out to the fairway.”

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“I think I just saw him take a drop.”

“Is that him over there? Oh wait, no, that’s a marshal.”

The patrons are still debating the whereabouts of Mickelson, let alone his options, when suddenly a ball ducks under one tree limb and soars over another, like a bird taking flight and seeing its path. It lands just short of the green, bounces onto the surface and somehow defies the laws of physics, kicking left toward the pin.

A seemingly impossible shot has resulted in him having a 12-foot putt left for birdie. Mickelson has hit plenty of ridiculously great shots on this golf course in the past, but that was a top-five all-timer.

And of course, he makes the birdie putt.

The fans now going wild for their leader by two strokes, this is exactly the kind of momentum Mickelson need to ebb the tide of support in favor of his playing partner.

Perhaps buoyed by that, he pummels a drive down the center of the par-5 second hole and has a little pep in his step as he walks after it.

And of course, he makes bogey.

Epitome of this guy’s career, right? Once again, Phil makes the impossible look easy and the easy look impossible.

On the third hole, he misses the green with his approach, then chips in for birdie.

On the fourth hole, he sticks one to 10 feet, then three-putts for bogey.

You, like everyone else in the crowd, shake your head in disbelief over an opening four-hole stretch that has included some of the greatest shots you’ve ever seen in person, not to mention some of the biggest blunders. Never has the tagline, “What will Phil do next?” been so appropriate.

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