HOWARD WARD: Is 2010 the Year Tiger, Phil Get It On?
One thing I would know if I was a professional golfer -- don't get Tiger Woods angry at you.
I don't really think Tiger was angry at Y.E. Yang back in August when the young Korean defeated him in the PGA Championship. Not angry as in mad or something.
But there is no doubt that Tiger's pride was hurt. He had never lost a major championship when he either shared or led going into the final round.
But Yang defied the odds and handed Tiger his head in the only big one that the Chosen One has ever let get away.
So do you think Tiger wanted to be paired against Yang in the President's Cup last weekend? Well, maybe. Just a tad. Like make it happen, Freddie, or else.
So Freddie made it happen. He paired Tiger against Yang and it was a massacre. No contest. As in Poof! You're gone.
I know the President's Cup doesn't come close to matching the Ryder Cup for intensity and drama. But give it time. This is a relatively new kid on the block, and it hasn't really established its own tradition yet.
Just wait until the International Team wins about three times in a row and let's see if the intensity level increases.
I can remember a quarter of a century or so ago when the Ryder Cup was a nice competition, but it really wasn't that big a deal. Everybody knew the good ol' U.S. of A. was going to take the cup home after the weekend of camaraderie and partying. The Brits simply didn't have enough horsepower.
But then they decided to include all of Europe and things changed in a hurry. The U.S. was no longer the clear-cut favorite. In fact, the U.S. was fighting for its life in every match.
When the European team started winning more than the USA team and even doing it on the home soil of the Americans, fans became interested. Nothing like a few losses to get the dander up.
So if it's fan interest that needs flaming, just wait until an American win isn't the expected. We'll rally around the flag then, boys.
But back to Tiger and the revenge that was. Tiger was only perfect over the three days. He goes in with a mediocre record in both the Ryder and the President's Cup and comes out like, well, a tiger.
That his record was 5-0 wasn't the most impressive thing. It was the way he did it. He seemed to save his best for the most critical moments in a match and he and partner Steve Stricker were untouchable.
But as good as Tiger was, we can't forget the impact of Phil Mickelson. The way Lefty has played over the past few weeks has actually got me excited about next year's PGA Tour season.
Just once I want to see Tiger and Phil, both at their best with no distractions or family concerns to worry about, go head-to-head for an entire season.
I want to see them matching up in the final round of some tournaments. I want to see them staring each other down on the back nine at Augusta on Sunday.
I want to see them both at their best in the biggest championships. I want to see a few duels in the setting sun.
I don't know how anyone could be more popular than Tiger, but Phil could be approaching that level. The fans love the big guy with the warped smile.
Phil may not have the pure talent that is Tiger Woods, but he isn't far behind. When he's right, no one is better.
The biggest difference between Phil and Tiger may lie in the fact that Phil doesn't have the total focus of Tiger.
When Tiger's playing, he doesn't make eye contact with the fans, unless someone is dumb enough to snap a camera shutter while he's over the ball.
Phil seems to love to interact with the fans, and they embrace that about him.
There's no disputing that these two are the Palmer and Nicklaus of the day. They're both great, and they're great for the game.
Now let's get to some of those Sunday showdowns.
Contact Howard Ward at 867-6493 or 690-2211 or by e-mail at
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