Mickelson two strokes in the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions event to be held later today in Shanghai, China. The pairing of the superstars in the last round isn't really a common occurrence. It should make for compelling viewing commencing on The Golf Channel at 11:00 PM, EST. Thoughts of Jones/Hagen or Nicklaus/Palmer come to mind in the set up for a rare late season match up worth watching. Let's hope it lives up to at least part of the hype.
Woods carried a one stroke advantage over Phil beginning yesterday's round, but Mickelson made short work of the deficit. His 67, including a back nine 33, gave him the two shot cushion at -14 over Woods and American Nick Watney. Ryan Moore remains within sniffing distance at -11. Woods' third round 70 was marred by a rather pedestrian back nine 36, reinforced by many players finding out that birdies were in short supply. In birdieing 3 of his last 5 holes Mickelson was the only player in the top 18 to break 70. Lee Westwood carded a stellar 65 to come in at -10 and place himself back in the conversation.
Dream pairings don't often match the build up, but if this one does it may set the tone for a very interesting 2010 season. A Mickelson victory over Woods in a head to head match up would be frosting on his 2009 cake and shoot him into 2010 with a confidence injection. It would come on the heels of his TOUR Championship victory in Atlanta and indicate Phil's back in good form after a personally tumultuous 2009 marred by his wife Amy's and his mother's cancer diagnosis. This will make the 25th time Woods and Mickelson have gone "mano y mano" in the final round of a tournament and the 1st time since 2005 at Doral. In the 24 previous meetings Woods has posted the better score in 12, Mickelson in 8, and 4 have ended in ties.
May the best man win.