Thursday, April 02, 2009

Can Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia take number-one status from Tiger Woods?

One possible way for Phil Mickelson to become the number one PGA Tour golfer in the world, toppling Tiger Woods, is closely tied in to his finish at this weekend's Shell Houston Open. In order to turn his dreams into reality, Mickelson is going to have to sharpen his putting skills.

According to his website, Mickelson has improved in all areas of his game except in putts per round. Out of six events, Phil now has two 2009 victories so it appears that the only way Mickelson can lose is if his mental game shatters, which it has been prone to do.

Greg Norman believes that Lefty is not as strong as Tiger Woods when it comes to clutch putting and, when it comes PGA Tour dominance, "Tiger's got him on the mental edge and Tiger has got him outside nine feet." Let's not forget that last week's big finale at the Arnold Palmer Invitational came down to Woods' lengthy putt at the seventy-second hole.

Although this may appear to be the "Phil and Tiger Show" on the PGA Tour, Sergio Garcia has been close in the world rankings but struggles to close the door behind him. Garcia may claim that "being No. 1 would be nice," but in reality, his "main goal is to win a major." Sergio has even changed his schedule to accomodate the Shell Houston Open, citing that the course is prepared very much the same way with "really quick putts like you're going to get at Augusta."

How does Tiger Woods feel about the threat to his position atop the world standings? Ask him and he'll say that he expects to win every time he plays. "It's just about being there and timing it right and making putts at the right time and pulling off shots at the right time." Woods continued, "We're all trying to do it. Some guys put themselves in contention more times than others but still, we're all trying to win tournaments."

Still, why is it more of a struggle for guys like Sergio and Phil to climb to number-one status than it is for Tiger Woods to maintain it, even after a year's layoff?

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