Whom Do You Root For: Tiger or Phil?

Both players are treasures of our game, but likely you root for only one of them.

Thrash TalkThe question for you is do you root for Tiger or do you root for Phil? Likely you don’t root for both. In a strange way us golf fans tend to pick one or the other of these guys, and if you are in a group, a debate will likely ensue about who is the best. Tiger is consistent and dominant in the same way that Phil is go-for-broke and approachable. They truly are almost opposite people who are fantastically great at the same game.

I think the media fluffs up their relationship trying to spark a rivalry between them so there is something to talk about. I think they probably are just fine with each other and in the Ryder Cup locker room probably consider themselves friends. The irony in that statement is that they are terrible Ryder Cup partners (just ask Hal Sutton) because they are total opposites in how they approach the game.

Tiger won the 2006 Open Championship hitting irons off all but one tee. Can anyone imagine Phil doing that? Phil wants to hit the driver long and win with flair. Tiger seems as if he couldn’t care less about the flair and would win in any way or fashion. Tiger dominated for years with the stinger, I don’t think Phil has the stinger or cares to hit it. Off the course Phil sticks around for hours to sign autographs, is emotional with his wife and his family, and is always quick with a smile. At every event I have been at Phil will search out kids and give them a ball when he’s finished with it, always bringing a bright smile to their faces. Tiger rarely has a smile and signs autographs typically after he plays well and rarely for long. Their approach to golf and even life are truly opposite.

The thing that always surprises me, is really what makes Tiger great is his capability to block everything out and focus it seems beyond what is humanly possible. Every five footer for Tiger is automatic. This sort of focus seems not to work for Phil. When Phil is at his best he is laughing waving at the crowd, joking with Bones. The complete opposite of Tiger. Phil over a three footer makes me hold my breath. Tiger with a 54-hole lead is automatic. Book it. Phil is going to make it beyond exciting. Every hole is going to be an adventure and a disaster is around almost every corner.

Tiger and Phil at the Ryder Cup

I believe this is at the root in how some of us choose Tiger and others cheer for Phil. It represents the differences in our personalities. For me, it is example of opposites, I am actually very much like Tiger, consistent, driven, but I love to root for Phil because I appreciate his style. I like that he is having fun, appreciates the fans, and goes for broke. In many things in life we lay up, because it is the prudent choice, it is what we are suppose to do. Phil almost never lays up. He goes for broke, especially when it isn’t the prudent choice.

My friend, the Tiger fan, roots for Tiger because he appreciates the dedication to greatness that Tiger has. He appreciates how hard Tiger practices, and the mechanical way Tiger approaches each shot. He enjoys that Tiger put Jack’s record as his goal as a young child and has been working towards it ever since. He told me whilst we watched the U.S. Open in 2008 that Tiger was going to make that putt, because Tiger is dependable in that way.

Quite honestly this debate was far more clear prior to Tiger’s fall from grace due to a moving fire hydrant. Today, because Tiger no longer dominates in the way that he did, his fan base has changed a little. People who used to be ardent fans are now not so much and maybe some on the fence about him now root for him. He now is in the top five most hated athletes and hasn’t won a major in over three years. He certainly is not as dependable as he once was. Certainly he will win a multiple times and I believe he will once again find his game and win one or more majors. He is simply too good not too. Tiger showed such great form last week at Bay Hill that I am sure many will have him as the favorite at Augusta and for the next couple of majors.

Whoever you root for, Tiger and Phil have provided all of us some of the best moments in golf history. They never really had a time other than one year at Doral where they were both peaking and battled down the stretch. There is still a chance for that but as both of them move farther from their prime the chances are reducing.

Photo credits: © Getty.

10 thoughts on “Whom Do You Root For: Tiger or Phil?”

  1. Wasn’t a fan of either one when they were first on tour. Tiger’s “second sucks” comment in ’97 set the tone for me. Then, there was Phil with the shirt collar up FIGJAM personality. Must admit, I am rooting for Tiger to win more majors.

  2. Well, I think both Tiger and Phil to reach such a high level of competition need to have a bit of a personality flaw. Tiger in his self-centered-ness and Phil with his “pompous” attitude. I think FIGJAM is a bit harsh and I don’t totally understand it as it applies to Phil, but I can see how some might think Phil is arrogant.

  3. Phil irritates me. Dont get me wrong, I will root for him, but damn he’s a bonehead. He doubles 18 at Wingfoot to loose the U.S. Open. He plays sporadically, takes off weeks at a time, and consequently never becomes world #1. While he still won the Masters in 2009, he missed the eagle putt that followed the shot of his career on 13. This is the stuff that defines Phil, not his 40 wins. And if I hear one more time about his wife having breast cancer… geez!

    Tiger, while he’s the greatest golfer thats ever played, is always gonna be the guy that drove the Denali into a tree. No matter how I try, I cant look at him the same. A sex scandle… its pitifull really. His greatness will always be tarnished. I cant get fired up about him anymore. I use to root for him for the sake of the game and the awsome things he was accomplishing. I dont care anymore… I’d rather the records belong to Jack.

    In summary, I don’t really care for either of them. If I had to choose, I’d root for Phil.

  4. A couple of years ago I would have said Phil without hesitation. But seeing everything Tiger went though (obviously self inflicted for the most part) has made me root for the guy. For whatever reason I like the underdog and in spite of his dominance Tiger became one after the “event.” Plus, once he stopped being so dominant I think we all got to see what golf is like without Tiger; and while good it’s not as good. I hope that he plays well at Augusta (he’s my pick this year), but I wouldn’t be upset if Phil one… he still is one of my favorites. I guess I’m in that odd group who kind of likes both.

  5. I’m not looking for friends, and im not his mom or ex-wife, so I don’t care about personality, or what he did, or how he presents himself… If I did I would watch TMZ…

    I’d like to see Tiger take it… I love his powerful mechanics.. just wish he could settle into one swing and sharpen it like a samurai sword. Go Tiger, Roar loud…

  6. I’m a Tiger fan thru’ and thru’. When my uncle first wanted me to start playing golf, I told him – thanks but no thanks, that’s an “old man’s sport”. I’d much rather more “active” games like tennis and squash. Then I watched the Tiger show at Augusta in 1997. Instantly I was a fan, I started playing golf, and have never looked back since. Thanks Tiger for getting me into the game!

    I don’t care a hoot about the fire hydrant “affair(s)”. I only ever get to watch Tiger on TV (and once in real life at a tourney). Frankly, I only ever see him for 4 hours x 4 days of telecast at the majors, and perhaps some other tourneys during the year. So, I only know Tiger “the golfer”, not Tiger “the man”. I was saddened that Tiger “the golfer” left us for the last 2.5 years, and am now very happy to see him “back” at Bay Hill last week. As for Tiger “the man” – I’ve never met him personally, I don’t know him, have never known him, will never know him. Is he a saint or a sinner? Who cares? Do I need to even know? Is it any of my business? Am I his keeper? No, no, and no … I’m just here to watch him play great golf! That makes him “the man” to me.

  7. I’m not a fan of any player who’dknowing get the galleries and crowd ramped up at a golf tournament, and especially at a venue where the adjacent tees and greens are so close together. Cram the fist pumping and shouting. I’ll pull for Phil occasionally and Tiger probably slightly less often, but if they both chose to retire tomorrow that would be quite awesome as well. The hype surrounding either player has, in my opinion, soured me on the year’s first major to the point where I don’t even watch it. Okay I do watch it, but I suppose I was really pulling for a Day, Scott, or Donald on Sunday last year. Schwarzel was a nice surprise, but I’m already sick of that guy too. Do I even like golf?

  8. Some good comments here. I am not certain that I would agree that Tiger is good for golf. Certainly he has brought huge purses to the table but is that benefitting anyone other than the elite golfers? It is good to see comments like bobsuruncle who started to play the game because of Tiger. That is good to hear, it means Tiger has grown the game in some way.

  9. Watching Phil play definitely keeps it interesting. I like his approach – takes risks. Sometimes they work, like in the Masters and sometimes they don’t – US Open. Fun to watch and definitely was pulling for him when Tiger was dominating. But now, after all Tiger’s issues, I’m more interested now in seeing him do well trying to climb back to be close to where he was before. Seems he’s gained a bit of humility as well as a result of what he’s gone through, which is good to see.

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