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Tour Confidential: Is the Woods/Mickelson era nearing its end?

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
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Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson walk along the 13th fairway during the opening round of the 2013 Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.

Every Sunday night, conducts an e-mail roundtable with writers from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

1. Patrick Reed, age 23, won the Doral on the heels of 24-year-old Russell Henley’s Honda win and 26-year-old Jason Day’s Match Play victory. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have yet to finish in the Top 10. Is the Woods/Mickelson era of golf nearing its end?

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): The era of them being week-in-and-week-out forces is certainly waning. But both remain dangerous in the majors and will for quite some time. And ultimately that’s what all of us care about.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@GaryVanSickle): Tiger's bad back is making the end of an era talk look a little more realistic. The thing about Tiger and Phil is they might not be a factor week-in-and-week-out on Tour or even play that much, but they could still rise to the occasion and knock down a couple of majors in any given year. It's too early to say they're done, but it's not too early to wonder about them.

Eamon Lynch, managing editor, (@eamonlynch): Inexorably so. Mickelson is almost 44, and few arthritic golfers can summon their best very often at his age. At least one gets the sense that Phil still enjoys golf, still has motivation, albeit focused more on specific goals, like a U.S. Open win. Tiger's decline -- his swing and his health -- seems to have robbed him of any obvious enjoyment from golf. He will probably have a few more highs, but in career terms, he's closer to the boneyard than the bassinet.

Joe Passov, senior editor, courses and travel, Golf Magazine (@joepassov): It's too soon yet to sound the end of the Woods/Mickelson era. Both had such superb 2013 seasons that I don't think their games have gone that far south that quickly. This is especially true of Tiger, who has been the class of the field two Saturdays in a row before back problems derailed him. Besides, it's not as if 2013 stalwarts Brandt Snedeker, Justin Rose or Henrik Stenson have been tearing it up -- and oh, by the way, whatever happened to Keegan Bradley and Luke Donald?

Jeff Ritter, senior editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Group (@Jeff_Ritter): You can't say Tiger and Phil are done, but their era is somewhere on the back nine. Phil won the Open two majors ago, and Tiger -- as he likes to say -- has been close several times in majors over the past few years. They are going to be factors in more majors, but we're reminded almost weekly now that the Tour's new generation is the real deal.

Josh Sens, contributing writer, Golf Magazine (@JoshSens): Sunrise, sunset. Yes. But the great thing is that even in their twilights, these guys are sure to have more than a few flashes of brilliance left in them. That those sparks are going to get rarer and rarer will make them all the more fun when they do occur. Those kind of Cocoon moments help set golf apart from so many other sports, when your era ends and you either ride off into the horizon, or linger on, Michael Jordan-like, a few years too long.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated (@MarkGodich): I wouldn't say it's nearing its end, but Tiger and Phil are sharing the stage. As I mentioned last week, the young guns are just plain fearless.

2. After his win at Doral, his second of 2014, Patrick Reed said he’s one of the top five players in the world. Do you agree?

SENS: Top five in what? Shuffleboard? I dig the Cassius Clay-style bluster. Never hurts to have a little swagger in sport. He's been great so far. But no. Come on. Now, if he wins the Valero Texas Open in a few weeks, then maybe we can start talking top 25.

VAN SICKLE: Nobody else near the top of the world rankings is doing a damn thing. Right this second, yes, I'll say Patrick Reed is top five. But he's going to have to back that up with some more good finishes.

PASSOV: I have to admire his confidence -- that's critical if he's actually going to break into the top five -- but I totally disagree. He's never even played in a major. Patrick, let's see at least one major win, or at least a bunch of top 5s, before you pop off like this, rather than disrespect the players ahead of you who have accomplished that.

RITTER: Right now, at this moment, yeah, Reed is right. And I appreciate that he said it himself -- whether you like Reed or not, golf can use more players with an edge.

GODICH: I like Patrick Reed, and he is on an impressive run, but let's see how he does in the majors before we start making room for him on the Mount Rushmore of golf.

SHIPNUCK: He’s certainly one of the five hottest players in the game. But he needs more of a body of work in the majors and other big tournaments before he can be considered one of the best. I will say, his career is off to a helluva start.

LYNCH: He believes he is, which is probably all that matters.

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