Masters Matchups: Woods vs. Mickelson

Between them, they have won eight Masters Tournaments, 20 major championships, and a total of 126 PGA Tour events. They also have a combined age of 94, so they have a lot more golf behind them than they do in front of them.

The 2020 Masters Tournament was postponed from April to November due to COVID-19 concerns. That just meant that defending champion Tiger Woods had to wait seven additional months before slipping the green jacket on a new winner.

It should be a great tournament, with Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, and Brooks Koepka all in good form.

Can These Guys Still Contend?

Among the many wagers available for the Masters are the head-to-head matchups for the tournament. Players are pitted against each other with moneyline type odds established for each one. A bet on the winning player results in the bet paying off at the designated odds.

One of the matchups available for the 2020 Masters is Tiger Woods against Phil Mickelson. Woods is the defending champion, claiming his fifth green jacket and 15th major title with his win in 2019. He followed that up with a win later in 2019 at the Zozo Championship for his 82nd Tour win.

Since the victory that tied him with Sam Snead for career wins, though, Woods hasn’t come close to displaying the kind of form that earned him three wins in a little over a year. He’s battled injuries and a COVID-19 season pause in 2020 that have him coming to Augusta ill-prepared for competition.

Mickelson turned 50 in June and played his first PGA TOUR Champions event in August, a win at the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National. He followed that up with another PGA TOUR Champions win at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in October.

Mickelson doesn’t usually play a lot of golf in the fall, but the easy pickings of the Champions events and the return to Augusta appear to have energized him. The oldest Masters champion was Jack Nicklaus at the age of 46 in 1986. Mickelson’s chances seem to be farfetched, but 2020 has been a different kind of year.

Woods seems to lack the energy he exhibited when he was able to almost will himself to victory in 2019. I don’t expect him to be in the hunt as he defends his title, no more than I expect Phil to be very far up the leaderboard.

Does Tiger Still Have What it Takes to Win?

Woods has played in six tournaments since the resumption of play in June, and his best finish was a tie for 37th at the PGA Championship. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open and finished tied for 72nd in his title defense at the Zozo.

Against Mickelson, he is the favorite with odds of -155. To me, that’s really hard to believe.

Mickelson has a similar record, except he recorded a second-place finish at the WGC-FedEx Invitational in August. He barely made the cut at the PGA Championship and missed the weekend at the U.S. Open.

At last week’s Vivint Houston Open, he shot 76-73 and missed the cut. His odds for the matchup with Woods are +120.

Between the two players, Mickelson has played more golf and is probably better prepared to play a major championship at this point. However, their performances have been similar, so it’s possible to just fall back on their performance history.

These guys are the Arnold Palmer and Nicklaus of their generations, and it would be great to see them paired together on the weekend if they can manage to make the cut. Given the odds, the bet on Mickelson is a way to make some money. There are better wagers than having to bet $15.50 on Tiger to win $10.

In this one, I’d take Phil, only because he’s played more golf, and I believe Tiger has shut it down until the spring. Come April, I believe it will be totally different with Tiger if he’s able to get healthy. But for Augusta in November, go with the player that’s won a couple of tournaments, even if they were against the old guys.

Featured Image: “Phil Mickelson” by Corn Farmer is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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