If you want to see Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson play in the final round of the PGA Championship on Sunday, you will need to get up early. While golf's two biggest names are accustomed to receiving primetime treatment at golf's majors, they will instead be the warmup act after a shocking reversal of form left both near the bottom of the PGA Championship leaderboard. "Not joyous, that's for sure," said Woods, summing up his mood and performance after returning a scrappy three-over 73.
"It's just one of those weeks where I didn't quite hit it well enough and didn't make enough putts." Both golfers arrived at the year's final major riding a massive wave of momentum, Woods carried along by a dominating victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and Mickelson still basking in his brilliant win at the British Open.
But momentum is a fickle force in sports and no more so than on the golf course where multiple major winners can drop off the map while unknowns take their place in the spotlight. Brought to their knees at Oak Hill, Woods and Mickelson received a sobering reminder, if one was needed, that resumes count for nothing each time you tee it up.
While 29 players were under par when the penultimate round began on Saturday, none were named Woods or Mickelson. Between them, Woods (five) and Mickelson (three) have won eight PGA Tour events this season but entering Sunday's final round, neither of the world's top two players had been able to break par on the stately East Course. Just three weeks earlier Mickelson had hailed his final round at the British Open as one of his best ever.
Now, the third round of the PGA Championship may be remembered as one of his worst after bumbling his way to a shocking eight-over 78. Mickelson began his day smartly with a birdie at the third but it was pretty much downhill from there as the world number two followed immediately with a bogey at the fourth.
Lefty's nosedive picked up speed with a triple-bogey seven at the seventh and another bogey at the ninth. The horror show extended to the back nine where Mickelson capped a cringe worthy display by dropping five shots over his final five holes, including a double-bogey six at 14 and bogey-bogey finish.
Not surprisingly, Mickelson had nothing to say about his dismal display, brushing past the cameras and microphones without offering comment. On top of the golfing world at the start of the week, Mickelson had a very different view on Saturday, sitting on 10-ove with only Gary Woodland at 13-over standing between the five-times major winner and the bottom of the leaderboard. Woods's sudden dip in form has been perhaps even more shocking with the world number one coming off a dominating win at the WGC-Bridgestone where he ran away from the field for a seven-shot victory.
But somewhere between Akron, Ohio and Rochester, Woods lost his mojo. Without a major win since 2008, Woods's inability to deliver his best form on golf's biggest stage has become alarming as he continues his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major titles. "That's golf. We don't play well every week," shrugged Woods. "Unfortunately that happened to be this week. "Unfortunately I just haven't put it together at the right time."