Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Can Mickelson Survive Another Duel against Tiger Woods at Doral?

In honor of this week's high profile Ford Championship at Doral, all other tours call it quits for the week.

Tiger Woods versus Phil Mickelson again? Wouldn't THAT be a good ratings boost for NBC! Especially since the recent Olympics were a ratings flop for the station. We can only hope that NBC doesn't cut away in the middle of the event as other channels have done (ahem, CBS), usually for issues that could have waited until the nightly news!

With all of the major players coming out for this battle with the Blue Monster, expect a weekend of dueling sticks and all of the makings of a tournament that will be featured on golf forums for weeks to come!

Defending champion Tiger Woods is hoping to make this his third victory of 2006. Phil Mickelson, the king of drama, will try to stop him in his tracks once again even though Lefty's record against Tiger proves that he will have a tough time of it. The last three tournaments playing against Woods, Phil was trounced. At this same time last year Phil already had two victories under his belt, during the West Coast Swing. With four top-ten finishes so far this season but no victories its time for Mickelson to wake up and get busy before the season slips away from him, sort of like the 2004 season when Phil coasted without a single win. Perhaps Mickelson will play better golf at the Southern Swing events.

This is the first stroke-play event of 2006 where all the top players are in the field.

Retief Goosen and Ernie Els enjoy playing golf together and are good friends off the course.

Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen haven't really done anything memorable during this 2006 season except for the recently when Singh forced officials to review Lefty's driver. Singh has the same number of top-tens as Mickelson and both Els and Phil slipped in the World Rankings. If Tiger keeps his game to the same exacting standards as of late, another win may well be on the agenda.

Tiger may also want to do something really special this year as it is his tenth year since both turning professional and joining the PGA Tour. Perhaps winning all four majors in a single season might do it! But then what would be next for Tiger? Kids, diapers and a 7-passenger Caravan?

Notables in the field include Craig Parry who won the 2004 Doral with a spectacular eagle from the fairway. Who can forget that shot! Nick Faldo has been elusive on the PGA Tour but will try to win a second time since his 1995 appearance. Maybe Faldo, who is now a commentator, will give us a blow-by-blow description of the tournament from the trenches!

The 7,266-yard course at Doral will certainly favor the longer hitters this week, but the twelve holes surrounded by water also makes the golfers step into this course with trepidation. At this venue it is usually the 18th hole that decides the winner.

Speaking sentimentally about Doral for a moment, this is the final season that the Blue Course will host this particular stop on the East Coast Swing. Instead Doral will be a featured course on the 2007 PGA Tour as a host for the World Golf Championships.

Photo Credit: © Reuters.
Photo Credit: © AP.

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