This past week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was one filled with storylines that may have leave a lasting impact in the world of golf for more than just a few rounds. There was the whole Tiger Woods meltdown that left him at 18-over par at the end of the tournament. And there was the calf tear by Lee Westwood, who was chasing Tiger in the world rankings, and trying to build momentum towards the PGA Championship where he could capture his first-ever major. And then there was Phil Mickelson.
With the other two being completely out of the mix at Firestone, Phil had his chance to finally do something that has alluded him his entire career: become the number one ranked player in the world, and end Tiger’s 269 week run at the top. And this seemed like it would happen when Phil was only a shot off the lead towards the end of his third round. But then it all fell apart.
He had bogeys on 14 and 15 in his third round which left him with a bad taste in his mouth heading into the final round yesterday. And well, that taste got a little worse as he just played terrible in his final 18, shooting 6-over on the front nine and then 2-over on the back nine to leave him with a 78 on the day. So after being only a few shots away from the leaders entering the day, he finished 15 shots off the lead.
While being the top-ranked player in the world doesn’t always mean you are the absolute best player in the world, Phil still had his chance to be both. With Tiger at a point where we’ve never seen him before in his game, this was the time for Phil to capitalize and overtake him at the top of the rankings. But once again, he squandered the opportunity, and has to play the waiting game.
Golf fans are really starting to wonder if anybody wants to be at the top of the world golf rankings. Now that we’re starting to question whether or not Tiger can ever regain his past form again, this is the opportunity for someone to come in and start declaring themselves the “new best golfer in the world.” To me, either Phil or Westwood should be that guy.
Both have put themselves in prime position to be at the top, and have people start questioning whether or not Tiger is the best player anymore. But every time they get their chance to make the debate even hotter, something happens. In Westwood’s case, you can’t blame the guy for an injury that he can’t do anything about. But in Phil’s case, all he has to do is play well and
It would be a shame if Phil is never able to become number one, simply because of everything that he’s accomplished in his career. While he’s clearly got some great years ahead of him, we have to remember that he is 40-years-old now. There’s only so many more chances that he’ll get at being the best, especially if Tiger magically reinvents himself, and starts playing Tiger-like golf again.
We all know that Phil will always be associated with Tiger, in that this is the era of Tiger Woods. If Tiger had never become the phenomenon that he is today, would this have been the era of Phil Mickelson?
There’s no way of knowing, but it’s certainly an intriguing thought.
This is reality though, and the reality is that with Tiger dwindling, Phil has the chance of a lifetime. He could get to number one and instead of being labeled as Tiger’s biggest competitor for the rest of his career, he could make us start looking for someone to be his biggest competitor.
If indeed we are closing in on the end of the Tiger era, someone has to look at this as an opportunity to be known as not only the top-ranked player in the world, but also as the best player in the world. It’s time for Phil to step out of Tiger’s shadow, and put his own stamp on the game in terms of being at the top of the golf world.
He’ll get another chance this week at Whistling Straits. Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself.
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Topics: Golf, Golf Analysis, Golf History, Lee Westwood, Lefty, PGA, PGA Championship, Pga Championship Preview, Phil Mickelson, Phil Mickelson Number One, Phil Mickelson Vs. Tiger Woods, Tiger 18-over Par, Tiger End Of An Era, Tiger Woods, Wgc Bridgestone Invitational, Whistling Straits, World Golf Rankings