Tiger vs. Phil

Normally this would be reserved for OTB Sports but Rick Reilly’s column this week is a classic:

Rooting for Tiger Woods is like rooting for Justin Timberlake to get lucky, Exxon to hit a gusher, Bill Gates to find a twenty on the sidewalk. It takes no imagination. It takes no courage. What’s the point? It’s 1-to-5 he’s going to win anyway, whether you cheer or not. Makes no difference to him. It’s like rooting for erosion.

Rooting for Phil Mickelson, on the other hand, is like rooting for the salmon to eat the bear. It takes faith. It takes forgiveness. It takes Tums. Mickelson is a roller coaster in an earthquake. One shot will be so inspired you’ll cover your mouth in astonishment. The next will be so Spam-brained you’ll slap your forehead in disbelief. It’s like watching a blind guy jaywalk across Hollywood and Vine. Your fist is in your mouth the whole way.

I bring all this up because Woods and Mickelson will play side-by-side Thursday and Friday at the U.S. Open. You must choose. You cannot root for both. It’s un-American.

Here’s how to tell them apart: Woods has the Joe Weider body, the Iron Byron swing, the Green Beret mind. Mickelson’s body leans toward Sara Lee. He’s carried two drivers—one for hooks and one for slices—but none for straights. He can get it up and down out of an ice cream cart, which is a good thing, because he’s there a lot. He might be the only athlete whose catch phrase is, “I’m such an idiot!”

Now, as it turns out, Tiger’s coming off major knee surgery and hasn’t played a competitive round of golf in weeks. And he is, after all, chasing history, trying to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ 18 Majors. Barring tragedy, he’ll do it.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Steve Plunk says:

    Of course the real odds are neither one will win. The PGA Tour is full of golfers who could win any tournament, anytime. Just ask Cabrera, he knows.

  2. It seems to me from watching their broadcasts that CBS roots for Tiger more than anyone else.

  3. Boyd says:

    I can’t bring myself to root for Mickelson. He’s just not a likable person, to my mind.

    Maybe it’s the man-boobs. *shrug*