Golf

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson Are Making History in the Worst Way

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are two of the most accomplished golfers of their era on the PGA Tour. Setting up the pairings to have them play together on Thursday and Friday would automatically make their group the No. 1 draw for spectators, and the attention would grow proportionately on the weekend.

Well, 2020 is a season largely without fans on the course, and this Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson pairing on Sunday shapes up as far different than any in the past. In some respects, perhaps it’s best that no one will be there to see them.

This is their first time together since May 2018

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Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have played two made-for-TV exhibitions together – the last time out was in May with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning – but it’s been a while since it’s happened in a PGA Tour event. In fact, you have to go back to the first two rounds of The Players in 2018 for the most recent instance.

Woods shot 72-71—143 to open that week and then heated up over the weekend with rounds of 65 and 69 to finish in a tie for 11th. Mickelson wasn’t as fortunate, shooting 79 and 73 to miss the 36-hole cut.

The dry spell for seeing them together ends on Oct. 25 in the final round of the Zozo Championship, an $8 million event in Thousand Oaks, California. Woods and Mickelson are together for a 2:28 p.m. ET tee time at Sherwood Country Club, with Adam Long rounding out the group.

Tiger Woods came into the week as the defending champion

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Tiger Woods’ most recent of his 82 PGA Tour victories came Oct. 25-28, 2019, in a masterful performance in the Zozo Championship. Woods put together rounds of 64, 64, 66, and 67 to finish 19 strokes under par and beat runner-up Hideki Matsuyama by three shots to pocket $1,755,000.

The 2019 Zoko Championship was played in Japan, while this year’s event is in Thousand Oaks, California. If the locales were drastically different, the results are, too.

Woods, 44, opened with rounds of 76 and 66 this week. That was enough to make the cut, but it left him far off the pace. When he shot a third-round 71 for a total of three-under-par 213, Woods found himself in a four-way tie for 68th place.

One of the pros Woods is tied with entering the final 18 holes is none other than Phil Mickelson. Mickelson, 50, has had his own issues this week, firing rounds of 72 and 74 to make it to the weekend, then shooting a 67 in his Saturday round.

Only pride on the line for Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson

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Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson begin the final round of the Zozo Championship tied for 68th place in a 77-man field, so neither will come close to making it onto the leaderboard, let alone win the tournament that Justin Thomas was leading through 54 holes.

That marks a first for two of the top players of their generation. While it will be the 38th round they played together in PGA Tour events, today marks just the ninth time Woods and Mickelson have been paired for a Sunday final round.

Even rarer, though, is the fact that this is the first time that their Sunday round together will have no bearing on the final results. As noted by the New York Post, each previous instance beginning with the 1997 PGA Championship saw them enter the final 18 holes in contention for a top finish.

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