But never like this.
This was a pounding at Pebble Beach. Mickelson shot a 64 on a day when no one else could do better than 67. Woods had a 75 on a day when only four players _ none of whom were in contention _ shot worse.
One guy left with the trophy, the other guy left with a lot to think about.
The relevance of Sunday is still to be determined.
The real measure of Woods most likely won’t happen until the Masters, which is just two months away. There is no doubt that Woods is more capable now than he has been since he was derailed from the fast track by chaos in his personal life and leg injuries. He has contended on Sunday in his last four tournaments, and that’s not an accident.
It’s the final rounds that are troubling.
In the middle of his last swing change in 2004, Woods had the 36-hole lead in consecutive weeks at Quail Hollow and the Byron Nelson Championship, stumbled badly on Saturday and then came up one shot short of a playoff on Sunday.
The last two tournaments, however, he hasn’t even been close.
In his 2012 debut at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, he was tied with Robert Rock of England going into the final round and couldn’t break par. Two weeks later at Pebble Beach, where he started the last day four shots behind Charlie Wi, he was one shot out of the lead while standing in the fairway on the par-5 sixth hole. Woods wound up nine shots out of the lead in a tie for 15th.
The guy dressed in red suddenly has a case of the Sunday blues.
He attributed his play in Abu Dhabi to not giving himself enough good looks at birdie. He attributed his downfall at Pebble Beach to not being able to make anything. Woods missed five putts in the 5-foot range.
Such performances used to be an exception, not a trend.
In those five tournaments where Mickelson has beaten Woods while paired with him in the final round, Lefty has won three times. So maybe there’s some truth to the notion that Woods brings out the best in Mickelson, or that Mickelson brings out the worst in Woods.
Rivalries are made out of moments like this.