Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Who looks good in green?

ESPN.com is running an interesting poll: Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson taking home the green jacket this weekend, or the rest of the field? When they've run these polls in the past, and done the "Tiger vs. The Field" angle, I say you always take the field, because that's just absurd. But in this case, Tiger and Phil or the field? Compelling...

Here's another fun stat: since winning his first major and his first green jacket a few years ago, Phil Mickelson has outplayed Tiger Woods at Augusta. That's not opinion, that's fact. Because of this, it's easy to pick Mickelson to win. And because Tiger knows this, it's easy to pick Tiger.

People have been looking for a true rival for El Tigre for years. And so far, it hasn't happened because no one can stand the heat. Everyone who plays with Tiger on Sunday melts. They usually start the day in second and finish the day out of the top five. So in the ashes of David Duval, Vijay Singh, and Sergio Garcia...is it time to elevate Phil to this promised status again?

What we've never seen in Tiger's decade of dominance is the Sunday showdown - where Woods is dead even, or within a stroke or two, of another dominant player, and then those two play together on Sunday and go down to the wire, trading blows. And maybe that's because no one trades blows with Tiger. But everyone would love to see Tiger and Phil, locked tight and away from the field after 52 holes, and then see it unfold with drama on 18. The Phil Mickelson/Payne Stewart shootout at Pinehurst in 99 was much more compelling television than anything Tiger has done yet. That's not Tiger's fault - that's everyone else's. So is this the year Phil - or the field - steps up?

If you're taking the field, here are some guys to pull for...

Never won a green jacket:
Davis Love III, Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els

Never won a major:
Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie

...but if you live in the States, you're not allowed to cheer for Monty.

Will's Pick: Tiger Woods. Duh.

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