2- Tiger and Phil’s Downhill Battle

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have blazed the summit of modern golf, but have they reached their peak?

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson finally get to know what it’s like to head home early at this year’s US Open at Winged Foot. Winged Foot, the true enemy of the players, made it nearly impossible to attack. It’s fairways were bent and slim, it’s rough refused to get a haircut, and even the wind didn’t know which way it was blowing. Only a lucky few came out under par, and they would be the first to tell you that.

Odd enough, the lucky weren’t the experienced. Justin Thomas (27 years old) took the lead going 5-under the first round, shared it with Belgian Thomas Pieters (28 years old) for round 2 a little while, then Winged Foot got the best of both of them.  

Patrick Reed (30) then found himself in the lead, barely staying afloat.

Bryson DeChamBeau (27) all the while lingered, and Matt Wolff (21) took the reigns for round 3, hitting a 65 while only managing to hit 2/14 fairways. Wolff would go on to fold like the rest of them, placing second for the contest with a dead-even score, but DeChamBeau hung on. Maybe it was all the protein bars he ate -but none-the-less, Winged Foot went his way, going 3-under the final round and a demanding 6-under in whole.  

Age ain’t nothing but a number, but if all those numbers meant anything this weekend, it is that the young guns aren’t afraid to take their chances. Phil went 9-over in round one, and didn’t fix much before his round 2-cut. Tiger too would humbly head out with 10-over.  

For the past 24 years, these guys blazed the summit for modern golf. They redefined what a ball and club could do, and no one could stop them. But now people are using belly-putters like regular putters, or do some weird robotic tick before they swing, and it’s working. Other people, full of skill, will, and an unshakeable mentality, are respecting tradition by breaking it. And just like you and me, Tiger and Phil had to sit at home and watch.

There are many ways to hike to the top of mountain. Phil seems to have hiked his way to the top not knowing how he got there but enjoy the ride all the while. Sure, there were times to persevere or work a little harder. He may even had doubts that it was possible or worth it. But low and behold he put his head down, and the next thing we knew, he was on top. Tiger, who has spent 684 weeks of his life as the world’s best golfer, seems to constantly reblaze his trails, making the mountain feel tougher and taller every time.

Golf came to an interesting crossroads this past weekend, similar to the one met 24 years ago. Young players have watched these two, but the best have analyzed: not trying to be like their heroes, but to see like them. Tiger and Phil will still have their chances to show why they are the best there ever was and will be, but they don’t need to. Their flags are planted firmly at the summit. But as it goes with any summit hike: once you reach the top, you are only halfway there.

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