AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) They’ re older now, no longer the particular 20-somethings who together helped usher golf into a new era.
The evidence of that isn’ to in their golf swings, but in the look of them. When Padraig harrington takes off his head wear after a round, there’ s the pronounced bald spot in the as well as Phil Mickelson looks, well, just like a guy should look as he methods the half century mark in every area of your life.
In most other sports activities they wouldn’ t contenders. In many other sports they wouldn’ capital t even be playing.
But here at the Masters, towards a field loaded with young talent, they’ re among the favorites.
Not just of the fans, who appreciated the unlikely pairing of Mickelson and Woods in a rare exercise round together on Tuesday. Oddsmakers in Vegas think both have a great shot at donning the traditional eco-friendly jacket on Sunday, and if it’ s Mickelson he would be the earliest Masters champion ever.
A Masters for the ages? What about one for the aged?
” We’ re at the end of our careers, we both realize that, ” Woods said. ” He’ s 47, I believe, and I’ m 42, and we have had an excellent 20-year battle, hopefully we’ lmost all have a few more. But we all understand where we are in the game today versus where we were in our earlier 20s, battling for who is likely to be No . 1 . And that has been then and certainly this is right now. ”
If there’ s any comfort for each players it lies in the history from the Masters, where Jack Nicklaus not just won at the age of 46 in 1986 but was contending on the final time a dozen years later at the age of fifty eight.
Add in the fact these people own seven green jackets together and it’ s not so farfetched they will at least be in contention in the weekend.
” I might give Phil a much better chance to earn than Tiger, ” said Butch Harmon, who taught Woods whenever he was young and has been with him when he earned the 1997 Masters in historical fashion. ” Not that I’ m saying Tiger can’ to win because I wouldn’ big t say Tiger can’ t perform anything because he will prove a person wrong. But Tiger hasn’ capital t won in a long time. ”
Harmon also worked with Mickelson for a period of time and believes he or she is riding a wave of self-confidence after winning the Mexico tournament last month.
” Phil is still competitive and I don’ t think Phil Mickelson has got the credit he should get, ” Harmon said. ” He’ s i9000 won 43 tournaments and 5 majors in the Tiger Woods era. Nobody else has come close to that, due to the fact Tiger was winning all the other people. ”
Both gamers bring some baggage into this particular Masters, though it’ s not really talked about in the interview room or even among the fans who swarmed to view them in the practice round.
For Woods, it was the particular DUI last year where he was discovered disheveled and incoherent on a Fl highway. Toxicology reports revealed 5 different drugs in his system and later pleaded guilty to decreased charges and received a year associated with probation and 50 hours associated with community service.
Mickelson, meanwhile, was linked to an insider trading scheme that sent high-stakes gambler Billy Walters to jail. Mickelson paid back nearly $1 million within ill-gotten gains in the case and, based on published reports, had owed Walters nearly $2 million in betting debts.
They’ ve had fewer problems on the course itself recently, with Woods fighting in his latest comeback and Mickelson winning in Mexico.
It was Woods, of course , who changed golf 21 years ago by successful his first Masters at the age of twenty one. Beset alternately by back and individual problems in recent years, though, he’ h been stuck on 14 main championships for a decade now.
Woods talked Tuesday about how exactly his swing speeds are still the actual were before he hurt their back and he showed he can not just keep up with the younger players off the first tee but sometimes hit it previous them.
And, naturally , he’ s got the experience that will playing Augusta National in competitors 78 times over 20 Experts can bring.
” I’ ve played well over the yrs, I’ ve won here several times, but all those years that I’ ve won, one part of our game has certainly stood out there, ” Woods said. ” Plus whether it’ s driving the particular ball like I did in `97 and putting it a couple yrs where I really putted well or even hitting my irons and striking a lot of greens, but not only lacking, missing in the correct spots all the time, there’ s got to be some kind of certain part of my game that’ s got to be on, plus hopefully this will be one of those weeks. ”
Harmon, for one, considers nothing would be better for golfing should that happen.
” I think the jury’ t still out on him, ” Harmon said. ” I would hope can do it because it would be the best thing on the planet for the game. The reincarnation associated with Tiger Woods at age 42 would be fairly cool. ”
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for your Associated Press. Write to your pet at tdahlberg(at)ap. org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg
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