As the golf world anticipates a potential Tiger Woods/Phil Mickelson duel at the U.S. Open, TravelGolf.com's national golf editor imagines how it'll go down in the final round at Oakmont Country Club.
It would indeed be an intriguing mano a mano match: Man against Man Boobs at the U.S. Open.
It'd be even better now that Mickelson is using Woods' old swing coach, Butch Harmon. I heard a commentator say the other day say that's like someone dating your ex-wife.
As interesting as the match-up might be, though, television viewers would only get the surface action. The really intriguing part is what Woods and Mickelson would be thinking, and saying to each other.
TV can't televise thoughts - yet - and it won't let us in on on-course conversations. But I happen to know both Tiger and Phil extremely well, and I can tell you exactly what they would be thinking and saying as they head down the Sunday stretch at Oakmont.
It would start on the driving range. Woods going into the final round with a one-shot lead, hits the range early, only to find Mickelson and Harmon already there.
Tiger Woods: "Phil, why are you and Butch holding hands?"
Phil Mickelson: "We're not."
Woods: "Yes you are. I can see you. I'm standing right here."
Mickelson: "Uh, Butch is showing me a new grip."
Woods: "Well, stop it."
Woods unloads his driver and starts spraying the ball to the left.
Woods: "Phil, would you please stop snickering? You're ruining my concentration."
Mickelson: "I'm not snickering."
Woods: "Yes, you are, I can hear you."
Mickelson: "Uh, that's Butch."
Butch Harmon: "No it isn't."
Mickelson: "You know, Tiger, it looks like you could use some help with that swing. I wonder if there's anyone around, anyone qualified, who could help you."
Mickelson turns around to address the entire range, and asks in a loud voice: "Any swing coaches around?"
Woods: "Funny, Phil."
Harmon: "Phil, why don't we just get back to work here."
Mickelson: "Well, he started it."
As the two stand on the first tee, facing the 482-yard par-4 that requires a blind mid-iron to a green that slopes away - one of the hardest holes in golf - the announcer intones the pairing.
Woods, under his breath: "I wonder why he didn't say anything about Winged Foot, Phil."
Mickelson, smiling for the cameras: "Well, I guess he didn't want to mention the fact you missed the cut."
Icy glare from Woods.
Both make routine pars on the first two holes, then Woods hits driver left into the Church Pew bunkers on No. 3. Mickelson, who's been deadly accurate off the tee with his new swing, is walking behind Woods.
Mickelson: "Watch out for the furrows, Tiger."
Woods rips a long-iron to the green, 15 feet short of the pin.
Woods: "Phil, I think you're still playing Jack's tournament."
Mickelson fires at the flag then makes a birdie putt. Woods narrowly misses his 15-footer and settles for par. Dead even.
The two trade pars and rare birdies evenly, but Mickelson's drives are starting to wander left. On No. 10, which features a narrow, downhill driving lane with severe fairway bunkers on both sides, the pair waits at the tee waiting for the group ahead of them.
Mickelson is whipping his eyes around, desperately scanning the area.
Woods: "You won't find Butch, Phil."
Mickelson: "What do you mean?"
Woods: "Stevie's taking care of that."
Mickelson notices that Woods' caddie, Stevie Williams, isn't on the tee box. Mickelson's face turns white. He hits his drive far left, past the bunkers and into the rough.
Williams reappears and whispers to Woods. Mickelson overhears it.
Steve Williams: "Oh, him? You won't see him around here no more."
Mickelson bogeys the hole to go one down. But then, incredibly, he reels off birdies on the next two holes while Woods can only manage pars. They go to No. 18, the most picturesque hole on the course, with Mickelson leading by one.
Mickelson hits his driver left again, past the chip-out bunkers and behind a tree. Woods hits a stinger short, but in the left fairway.
Woods: "Go for it, Phil, go for it."
Mickelson: "Shut up."
Woods: "Dude, you're the gambler. That's why the people love you. That's the only reason. This is your time."
Mickelson (still looking around for Harmon): "I'm going to punch out."
Woods: "You want Erin to lend you a bra?"
Mickelson hesitates. His caddie, Bones McKay, chimes in: "For God's sake, Phil, just punch out. We'll get him in a playoff."
Mickelson pulls out a seven-iron and smacks it into the top of the tree. It bounces back to a spot 15 from where he stands. He double-bogeys, and Woods wins the 2007 U.S. Open by a stroke.
Walking off the 18th green, Woods, well out of the TV cameras' audio range, whispers to Mickelson: "Get used to it, Chubby. You'll always be second banana."
Mickelson, shoulders slumping: "Can I wipe those clubs for you?"
June 4, 2007
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