Woods and Mickelson set for a showdown in year’s final Major
Top Americans and great rivals in form as they prepare for the start of the USPGA at Oak Hill
Winning at Firestone Country Club and a WGC, for all that it means, isn’t the same as winning a Major. Woods, more than anyone, knows that. Another “W” may have been chalked up on his CV, but it is what happens at Oak Hill this week which will define, more than anything, Woods’s season.
So far, he hasn’t transferred his dominance of regular events to the Majors: he was tied-fourth at the Masters, tied-32nd at the US Open (where he was returning from injury) and tied-sixth at the British Open.
What will this latest win do for him going into the PGA? Does he want it more?
“As far as wanting it more than any other, no. It’s the same. Those are the events that we try and peak for and try and win. There’s four of them a year, and it’s important for me to get some rest come Monday and Tuesday and do some light work . . . Come Thursday I’ve got a great pairing with Keegan (Bradley) and Davis (Love). Basically just try and get a feel for the golf course and how it’s playing. Do I want it any more? No, it’s the same. Each and every Major, I always want them. I’ve been successful 14 times, and hopefully (Oak Hill) will be 15.
Woods actually paid an advance visit last Tuesday to Oak Hill prior to getting to Akron and said “it’s going to be a tough golf course . . . . the rough was already way up when I played it. I think that it’ll be a very, very difficult championship.”
And the prospect of going head-to-head with Mickelson?
As appealing as that may be, Woods remarked: “We’ve had our fair share of head-to-head battles and head-to-head duels. For me it’s been three guys over the course of my career. It’s been Vijay (Singh), Phil and Ernie (Els), and those are the three guys I have bucked heads with not just here in the United States but all over the world . . . it’s been fun.
“Phil and I have gone head-to -head, but we haven’t gone as many times as people might think. I’ve gone against, I think, Ernie and Vijay more often than I have Phil. But when Phil and I have battled, it’s been in big events and we’ve shot some pretty good rounds together and against each other.”
Still, it’s a prospect that adds further spice to this week’s latest Major gathering at Oak Hill.