LOS ANGELES (Swing Update) – The 144-man squad of the Riviera has 88 players who have combined to win 496 times on the PGA Tour.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson account for 25% of these victories.
Nobody should be surprised.
Although too one-sided to be a rivalry, they were a powerful punch in golf. The same day, Woods earned his third consecutive victory as an American amateur just before becoming a professional, Mickelson won the World Series of Golf at Firestone. Woods earned his 80th career victory at the Tour Championship to end last season. Mickelson won his 44th place at Pebble Beach on Monday.
Mickelson thinks their trophy collection will continue to grow.
"I just think that even today, if I play my best, if Tiger plays his best, he's good enough to win every week," said Mickelson. "And the challenge is that there are so many great young players and great players in the sport today that we have to do our best to win. I just think Tiger and I are going to have a very, very good year this year. "
Nothing changes the outlook, other than winning, and Mickelson made it seem easy weekend at AT & T Pebble Beach's Pro-Am.
He recovered from consecutive bogeys along the ocean, while wind and rain were the worst, playing the last 26 holes without a bogey. Mickelson made an 8-foot-8 putt on the 17th hole on Saturday. Otherwise, his longest au pair during this period was 4 feet.
But it's harder than it looks.
Mickelson will be 49 this summer and one of the most underrated qualities is his health. In the summer of 2010, he revealed that he was suffering from psoriatic arthritis. Otherwise, his injuries were minor (left wrist wrist of Oakmont in 2007) or temporary (leg broken due to skiing in 1994).
"The challenge is to do my best," said Mickelson.
Woods is 43 years old and has eight surgeries behind him: four in the left knee and four in the lower back.
His return last year is the reason why expectations are so high now. Woods played well in Florida last year, dipped in late spring, then improved to the Tour Championship in the same way he won so many tournaments. He built a 54-hole lead and played a hard-to-beat kind of golf.
He was at his best this week and he had to be.
As seasonal meat is about to begin, the question is how often they can be at their best against deeper and younger competition.
He seems to be doing very well. Mickelson was about to win the Desert Classic until he lost a birdie to the last hole against Adam Long, No. 417 in the world rankings. He overcame a three shot deficit against Paul Casey finishing with a 65 at Pebble Beach. Between the two, a missed cut at the Phoenix Open, where he changed drivers looking for a few extra meters. Mickelson is always looking for distance.
His optimism comes from the fact that his pilot has reached a speed of 6 mph, which, he says, rarely happens to anyone, let alone a person in his forties.
There was no secret involved.
"It's not really a secret. It was nine months of hard work, "said Mickelson. "And during the night, I swung 6 mph fast. These were biometric swing studies, taking the weaknesses to make them strong. It was the hour of the gym. It was a whole process of training. It's a lot of work, but days like this are worth it. "
Mickelson won the Mexican championship last year for his first win in more than four years, the longest drought of his career. Even when he was not a winner, he was a finalist in major tournaments three years in a row.
Woods spent five years without winning, but it was different. During a four-year period during which he underwent four surgeries on the back, he played only 19 times on the PGA Tour and did not register until he did so. only one of the top 10. To have won last year, to be just below the world 's top 10, is a reason for optimism.
But it's not easy.
"I have worked to give my body the best chance to do my job, but there are days when I do not practice and do not train. These are days when I just rested, "said Woods to Torrey Pines. "It's probably one of the lessons I've learned through all this, that there are days when I just have to close it."
The Genesis Open is their first competition since the Tour Championship, despite the time trial against them, with $ 9 million going to the winner (Mickelson). They are also financially on the territory of the elite. With his victory, Mickelson joined Woods as the only player to have exceeded $ 90 million in career wins on the PGA Tour.
Mickelson said his goal of 50 wins could be harder to reach than he thought. What about 100 million dollars?
"I just need one more game with Tiger and I should get there," he said.
His game is sharp is always. So is the needle.