Friday, February 10, 2012
Updated: February 12, 1:35 AM ET
Sunday drama set for Pebble Beach
By Bob Harig
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- So it gets better. Not only are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in contention, they'll be playing together Sunday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Adding a little spice to the festivities is the fact their pro-am partners also made the cut.
Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys' quarterback and Woods' partner this week, thinks he's faced pressure from charging defensive linemen? Try playing alongside Tiger and Phil with a tournament title on the line.
The interesting scenario came together later Saturday afternoon, well after Woods and Mickelson had finished. Movement on the leaderboard led to their 30th grouping together in their careers. Woods leads in those head-to-head matchups 13-12-4.
More important to both, of course, is winning the tournament title, and they'll be chasing Charlie Wi, who shot 69 on Saturday at Spyglass Hill to take a 3-shot lead over Ken Duke into the final round at Pebble Beach.
Those two players have combined for exactly zero victories on the PGA Tour.
The Woods-Mickelson tally is 110.
Woods is another stroke back of Duke in third place after a 67 at Pebble Beach on Saturday, with Mickelson two more strokes behind and tied for fourth with Kevin Na, Dustin Johnson, Brendon Todd and Hunter Mahan.
The tale of Woods trying to get back to winning has been well-chronicled of late, as this is the fourth straight stroke-play event in which he's been in contention.
Mickelson's situation is a bit murkier. He won last year in Houston the week prior to the Masters, but that makes him one for his last 37 PGA Tour starts. The winner of 39 PGA Tour titles and four major championships was never able to move to No. 1 or take advantage of the void left by Woods, who was returning from personal scandal in 2010.
"My start to the year has been a lot slower than I expected,'' said Mickelson, who is playing his fourth straight event but has finished no better than a tie for 26th and missed the cut two weeks ago in San Diego. "I really felt good practicing and was excited for the year and my play, and some of my scores have not been that great.
"I had a good couple of rounds last week and I started to hit the ball much more confidently and I had a good couple of rounds this week, so I've been slowly getting into the start of the year. I thought I would be a little bit quicker, but it is starting to come. I could feel the difference.''
Mickelson remains maddeningly inconsistent. He shot 65 on Friday at Monterey Peninsula, with the bulk of his best work coming in the rain. On Saturday, he bogeyed the par-5 second hole, which is the easiest on the course. On the back nine, he made one birdie, at the par-3 17th, but failed to birdie the par-5 18th and settled for a score of 70. He hit just seven of 14 fairways.
"I know that I'm quite a few shots back,'' he said. "But I also know that [on] this golf course, you can come out and get a quick start, make some birdies, and when that happens, it's tough to follow suit a few groups behind.
"So I'm in a nice situation where if I can get a hot hand early, I can make a run on the leaderboard.''
Well, that was said well before the situation changed. Phil will be in the second-to-last group. There will be no sneaking up on anyone.
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.