Fans at Augusta National got an unexpected treat as they witnessed two golfing legends, and rivals, practicing together. The sight of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson out there on the field would have been impossible for the old Woods, or more accurately the pre-injury Woods, whose competitiveness was notorious.
But even his long-time caddie acknowledged that the 42-year-old has changed. His competitive fire is still there, however, he’s not as laser-focused on the field to ignore all the things around him. This time around, he can be seen interacting with the fans and acknowledging them whether or not he makes a good shot.
Joe LaCava said that his age and his kids, as well as coming off the surgery, has tamed the Tiger in more ways than one.
“He’s also appreciating the fact that he’s actually playing good and feels healthy again and has a normal lifestyle,” he said. “I think it’s good that he acknowledges the fact that people are behind him in this comeback, that they truly want him to win. He sees that fact, and he’s embracing it.”
he two legends couldn’t have been more different. Whereas Woods is distant, Mickelson is gregarious. Whereas Woods is shy around the media, the press can trust lefty to give them a good quote.
But make no mistake, the two are friends.
Referring to Mickelson, Woods said, “Our friendship has gotten stronger over the years.”
For his part, Mickelson said that he’s always respected Woods and acknowledged his status among the golfing greats.
“I texted him a while ago when he was playing at Valspar. It was like a different time continuum,” Mickelson said. “I felt myself pulling so hard for him. It was unusual. I want him to play well. I am excited to see him play so well. And he is playing well.”