Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tiger Woods has made the first two months of 2006 an extension of his successful 2005, winning in Dubai, San Diego and, on Sunday, at the Ford Championship in Miami despite a sloppy, bogey-bogey finish.

But what's become of his competitors?

Phil Mickelson remains winless in 2006, as does Ernie Els (he lost a playoff to Woods in Dubai). Will they ever threaten Woods' supremacy again? Should we set the way-back machine to 2001, when it was Woods' world and everyone else just played for second homes?

Not so fast.

For one thing Woods is not quite the mistake-free player he once was, as evidenced by his surprising 8-iron into the water on the par-3 ninth on Saturday, resulting in a double bogey. What's more, the game's other marquee players have been deterred by distraction, injury and other impediments, only some of which have been self-imposed. Mickelson has been tinkering with a 47-inch driver.

"I put it in play one round at the Match Play against Charles Howell and it about cost me the match," he told me after shooting an opening-round 65 at Doral, one off Tiger's pace. "I didn't find the fairway, but I picked up some nice yardage with it, so I wouldn't rule it out. We just have to do a little tinkering. It's a different swing. I don't know if I want to use a different swing."

Cameron Morfit is a senior writer for GOLF MAGAZINE. Read his weekly column every Monday at GOLFONLINE.

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