Make room, young fellas. Two golf legends are no longer fading from view. They want more trophies—122 are not enough. In the words of the late great Tom Petty, they “won’t back down.”
Last Sunday Phil Mickelson, 47, won for the first time since 2013. The rejuvenated and determined southpaw defeated world No. 2 Justin Thomas in a one-hole playoff to capture the WGC-Mexico Championship in Mexico City. Lefty now has 43 victories on the PGA Tour and some golf commentators are openly wondering if he can get to 50 wins.
Meanwhile, Tiger Woods, 42 and written off too many times to count, is back on the PGA Tour with a fused back, a big smile and more game than he and others expected at this point.
On Thursday, Tiger will make his first career start in the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Copperhead Course. It will be his fourth PGA Tour event of 2018. Two weeks ago Woods finished 12th at the Honda Classic after missing the cut at the Genesis Open in Los Angeles.
On Wednesday Woods played a practice round with U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk and his assistant captains Davis Love III and Steve Stricker.
“Today was a solid day,” Tiger said.
“After feeling good at Honda, I wanted to push myself,” he said about playing in the Valspar Championship for the first time. The comeback is ahead of schedule and Tiger is “ecstatic” that he can compete again.
The new affable Tiger Woods even praised Phil Mickelson for his win in Mexico City, according to ESPN’s Bob Harig. Holy cow. This new golf world is weird and wonderful.
Woods will play the first two rounds with Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson. The last time he played with Spieth was at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. That was a brutal day for the 14-time major champion. Tiger carded a ghastly 82. Woods, Spieth and Stenson will tee off at 12:46 ET in Thursday’s first round.
So the comeback continues. And somewhere other than Florida this week, an idle 47-year-old Hall of Famer is dreaming of more wins. The golf obituaries of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been put on hold, indefinitely.
Purse: $6.5 million ($1,170,000 to winner)
Course: Copperhead, Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, Palm Harbor, Florida
Par: 71 (7,340 yards)
Defending champion: Adam Hadwin
TV: Golf Channel and NBC