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Friday, January 20, 2012

A Tale of Two Masters

Phil Mickelson's exuberant return to competition turned into a struggle Thursday. The 2010 Masters Champion turned a front-side -3 into a +2 round at the Humana Challenge. I'm sure he was frustrated.

Charl Schwartzel feels his pain. Down in South Africa at the Volvo Golf Champions, the 2011 Masters Champion also carded a +2... but he never even sniffed a score below par. He went +3 on the front side, then got it back to even before dropping another 2 shots.

Which do you suppose feels worse -- dropping from -3 to +2, or never getting out of the basement?

Unfortunately, the ironies don't end there. The leaders at both tournaments sit at -9. The leaderboard's grouped a bit more tightly for Phil -- Camilo Villegas and David Toms lead the Humana, with 5 players tied at -8. In Charl's world, Nicolas Colsaerts leads by 4 over last week's winner Branden Grace, Thomas Aiken, and young Tom Lewis.

A mere 5 players trail Charl, while 7 trail Phil. The main difference? Phil's in a full-field event while Charl faces 35 players (and no cut), so Phil has a bigger challenge to get back into the fray.

But does it really matter? The back of the pack is the back of the pack. Phil may need a -7 or -8 round just to make the cut while Charl will go 4 rounds and get a check no matter what, but I doubt that's any comfort to Charl.

With all apologies to AC/DC, when you're used to green, it's no fun being back in black. So this long-distance dedication goes out to the two Masters who got mastered on Thursday. It's a cruel game -- better luck today, boys!

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