The PGA Tour concluded yesterday and one of the loudest echoes spreading across golf communities in its wake is the end of the Tiger Woods–Phil Mickelson era. As you can imagine, such a bold statement is probably reinforced by a fascinating fact. And it is! For the first time since 1992, neither Woods nor Mickelson will have a win on the Tour. But is this truly the end of an era? Or have the reports of the demise of a pair of golf icons been greatly exaggerated? Here’s why the latter is more probable.
2014 PGA Tour = Outlier
Using the assumption that the 2014 PGA Tour was an outlier for Tiger and Phil, and examining their previous two seasons, it’s safe to say that their era is not quite over yet. Let’s start with Tiger, who was last year’s PGA Player of the Year. In 16 events played, Woods won five. He also finished in the top 10 in half of those appearances. While it might seem like an eternity ago, 2013 was a dominant year for Tiger and should help to put things in perspective. Still not convinced? Perhaps a review of 2012 season can provide additional insights. In 19 events on the tour, Tiger won three of his 19 events and finished nine times in the top 10.
Now let’s examine Lefty’s previous two seasons. In 2013, Phil won two of his 21 events, finished in the top 10 seven times, and found himself in the top 25 on 11 occasions. Sounds like a golfer over the hill? Think again. That season was either better or comparable to the 2013 tour of great talents such as Justin Rose, Bubba Watson, and Rory McIlroy. Phil also performed well in the 2012 season, finishing 10 times in the top 25. He found himself in the top 10 on seven times and won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Golfers Can Win in Their 40’s
There is often a quick trigger to expedite careers because of age. It’s true that Father Time is undefeated, but both future Hall of Famers are not quite as old in golf years as some naysayers think. Tiger is 38 and Phil is 44. Lefty won the British Open last year. What if I told you that there are golfers even older than Phil that have had success? Julius Boros and Jack Nicklaus won majors at age 46 or older. And who can forget five years ago when Tom Watson captivated the golf universe by nearly capturing the British Open at 59? With modern day medicine and the conditioning of today’s athletes, it’s not farfetched to think that Tiger and Phil can’t stay competitive for another five years.
The Era is Not Quite Over
Sure the 22-year streak of at least one tour win from Tiger and Phil is over. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the sun has set on their era. 20 major championships have been won by golfers 40 and over and we just witnessed this year’s best player, McIlroy do a 180 from the 2013 tour. Still think the Tiger and Phil era is over? Let us know.