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The 19th Hole

Phil Vs. Tiger a rivalry?

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Phil Vs. Tiger a rivalry?

Unread postby furls » Thu Aug 17, 2006 10:51 pm

I saw a discussion today on PTI with Wilbon and Cornholer about the Phil vs. Tiger rivalry.

I will say that I personally do not think that this is a rivalry. In order for a rivalry to truly exist both sides must have significant wins over the other. Otherwise it is just an asswhipping. Until Michelson actually beats Tiger head to head this is not a rivalry.

I think that what we have right now is that the fans and the media really wish that Tiger had a rival, that is why every couple of years they invent a new one. I think that if I had to pick a golfer to put up against Tiger in a sunday grouping with the tournament on the line, I would pick De Marco, but he still is not really an adequate rival.

Thoughts?
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Unread postby yogi » Tue Aug 29, 2006 10:54 am

I agree with you that in a man-to man confrontation, well, there hasn't been one that Phil has won. There hasn't been too many.

But if you take a different turn and look at the last 8 majors, Tiger has won 3 and Phil has won 3. That could easily be conscrued as a rivalry when its not, its just the best 2 players in the world.

We also have yet to see a tournament when Phil is playing at his best and Tiger is also playing well. I think its a no-brainer that with both players at their best, Tiger wins handdown.

But how about Phil at his best and Tiger's B game?

Surely, out of Tiger's 12 Majors, he's managed to win at least half of them without his "A" game.
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Unread postby furls » Wed Aug 30, 2006 7:44 pm

He won last week with his D game.
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Unread postby swerb » Wed Aug 30, 2006 10:05 pm

It's been odd how few times these two great golfers have gone head to head. There was the one tourney last year (Doral I wanna say?) where they were in the final group together on Sunday. I think that's the only time it's ever happened.

That's odd, considering the pair have both lived in the top five in the World rankings for the leat 7-8 years. Arnie and Jack constantly went head to head.

Both are incredible golfers I feel priveleged to be able to have watched during their prime.

The biggest difference between these two is between the ears. When he's right mentally, Phil is very close to Tiger from a talent perspective, which is a huge compliment. When Phil won the PGA at Hazeltine last year, then backed that up with a win at Augusta to start the '06 major season ... many respected columnists proclaimed Phil as every bit Tigers equal.

However, when Mickelsons mind isn't right, he's not the same golfer. See 2004. See the last three months since The Winged Foot Meltdown. See any 4-5 week stretch after a big Mickelson win. To me, Phil is one of the most taleted golfers EVER, but is weak mentally.

Tiger on the other hand is the most solid golfer from a mental standpoint that I've ever seen. In a game where mental toughness is paramount, he is unrivaled in that area.

And that is what will preclude this from ever becoming a great one on one rivalry IMO. Even if it comes to where these two play together on Sunday 3-4 times in big events over a couple year period, Tiger will prevail each time. Just as he has his whole career, against guys with alot more mental moxie than The Hefty Lefty.

11-1 in playoffs. 12-0 when tied for the lead or better going into Sunday at a major.

Nuff said.
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Unread postby yogi » Thu Aug 31, 2006 8:25 am

I agee with the points you make, but there's still more left to this rivalry.

I have always wondered just how much "Tiger's mental toughness" will overcome being a father. There are worries just about every week with kids. Jack has had to deal with em, Phil does now.

One day (probably not too far off) Tiger will.

Now I'm not saying that Tiger's game will fall off, but Tiger was a mess when his father was dying and for a few months afterwards. It's life. Sometimes life doesn't allow that "mental isolation" that Tiger has seemed to enjoy most of his professional life.

Let's see how this "rivalry" plays out the next 10 years.
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Unread postby swerb » Thu Aug 31, 2006 12:09 pm

Tiger bounced back pretty quickly from his fathers passing, and just 4-5 months later ... is playing the best golf of his career.

I don't think having kids will affect him. He only plays 16-17 tournaments a year as it is. I don't think that will change when he starts a family.

And besides, if that blonde hasn't hurt his "mental isolation", nothing will. :wink:

Tiger thrives on pressure, and is able to maintain his focus and a high level of play after big wins. Phil thrived under pressure in his 2 Masters wins, and win at Hazeltine last year ... but we saw the Old Phil rear his ugly head at Winged Foot this year. Also, through his whole career, Phil has mailed it in following big events. On the flip side, look at what Tiger did at that brutal track at Firestone just a week after a major win! I was there Thurs, but had buddies out there for the Wedns practice round that said Tiger was on the range by himself for an hour after everyone else left.

I don't think that will ever change. Talent wise, I see the competitors as similar. Between the ears, it's advantage big time Tiger as far as I'm concerned. And between the ears is more important in golf than perhaps any other sport.

Hopefully we'll get a chance to see these two go mano y mano a little more over the next five years as opposed to what we saw the last five.

This will be an interesting thread to add to, chronicle, and ultimately look back on many years from now.
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Unread postby furls » Fri Sep 01, 2006 10:14 am

Both golfers make great shots, but there is more to this head thing than just psyche.

Tiger made what I call the "Nicklaus Realization" this year at the British Open. He realized that one of the true advantages to being a bigger hitter than everyone else is the opposite of what you would think. One would think that you should use that difference to outdrive your opponent by 30 yards and then have a 2 club advantage on your opponent.

What TIger has realized is that his advantage is actually that he doesnt even need to carry a driver with him. He hits a 3wood to most peoples drives, and he still has a 2 club length advantage in his irons. At Firestone he hit a 3 iron 248 yards into a par 5, WOW.

Tiger has realized that if he eliminates his mistakes and takes advantage of opportunities offered by the course he will win. Phil still thinks he needs to "outbirdie" the field and until he changes that fundamental aspect of his game, he will be roadkill.

I think that unless someone emerges to challenge Tiger and push him, he will retire early, shortly after crushing all golf records. Tiger above all things is a competitor. RIght now he is competing against history, what will he have to compete against in 5-10 years?
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Unread postby swerb » Fri Sep 01, 2006 1:32 pm

What TIger has realized is that his advantage is actually that he doesnt even need to carry a driver with him. He hits a 3wood to most peoples drives, and he still has a 2 club length advantage in his irons. At Firestone he hit a 3 iron 248 yards into a par 5, WOW.

Furls, thats a great point ... and one that incorrectly never entered this discussion of Tiger's prowess.

Tiger has checked his ego at the door. As a result? He's playing the best golf of his life.

As recently as 18 months ago, Tiger was obsessed with hitting driver off every tee. Confident his length would out leverage his fairways missed, and maybe a little too confident in his uncanny ability to recorver from tough spots in the rough better than anyone.

Back to back weeks ... at Medinah and Firestone, at two courses where accuracy off the tee is as paramount as any courses these guys play, Tiger rarely brought driver out of the bag. He just striped 3 wood and 3 iron after 3 wood and 3 iron in the fairways, as Furls said ... still outdriving most of the field.

With his touch, and the fact that he NEVER misses putts from 5 feet in, he's almost unbeatable when playing from 13/14 fairways a round. Hes realized this, and its been a big part of his resurgence.
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Unread postby furls » Fri Sep 01, 2006 10:34 pm

A point that Cowherd beleaguers and is absolutely ignored by the media, is that Tiger is the only pro golfer that is really "an athlete." I am sure we could enter some philosophical debate about how John Daley is an athlete, but you get the idea. Tiger is the only one of these guys who looks like he could play another sport (and I am not including bowling, darts, or poker).

The guy looks like he is about 220 lbs, and could play safety/linebacker at some level. You cant tell me that on hot crappy death days that having a little bit better fitness level does not give you and advantage on that ball buried in the rough. As someone who plays in the rough quite a bit, I can tell you it takes a ton of hand and wrist strength to keep that clubface from getting ripped open, and if you try to cheat it by starting with the face, slightly more close, than it just gets ripped open more. THis is why Tiger can drill a 7 iron 185 yards out of a buried lie in British open/US open rough.

Lets face it, in a tournament golfers will take about 280 strokes (270-290) and generally the tournament comes down to one or two strokes, figuratively and literally. A golfer needs every advantage he can take and I am surprised you don't see more in better shape.
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Unread postby yogi » Sat Sep 02, 2006 8:13 pm

Tiger is the only one of these guys who looks like he could play another sport (and I am not including bowling, darts, or poker).


I don't disagree with your point that it gives Tiger an advantage (albeit IMO a very small one). Young Fat Jack would've given Tiger a run for his money.

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