Tiger likes to ‘chat while he plays’

American golfing greats Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson may be Ryder Cup teammates but they will never be friends, said compatriot and teammate Hunter Mahan.

The 28-year-old — appearing in his second Ryder Cup after an impressive debut as a wildcard in 2008 where he emerged unbeaten in his five matches — said that Woods and Mickelson, world number one and two respectively, were such contrasting characters that they could never be friends.

That coolness in their personal relationship was seen in the 2004 Ryder Cup when captain Hal Sutton paired them in what he said was the “dream team pairing” only for them to lose both the opening day fourballs and foursomes. They were separated for the second day.

A repeat pairing by captain Corey Pavin this time round seems unlikely and would amaze Mahan.

“Yeah, their personalities are completely different,” said the laid-back Californian, who won twice on the Tour this season and finished eighth in the Masters.

“They are totally different. Just by watching them play, you know.

“Tiger is stoic and doesn’t really talk much, and I know Phil, he talks to Bones [his caddy] on every shot and they really talk a lot in depth. Phil, I think the more he talks and chit chats, it calms him down. He likes that.

“You know, I would never expect them to be friends. After meeting them and talking to them and how they go about their business, they are just totally different. It is what it is and they are both going for the same thing usually every year, to be the best player in the world.

“I’ve played with both of them; I like them both. I get different things from both of them when I talk to them and tips and stuff like that.

“Their personalities are just 180 degrees different.”

‘The fans are going crazy’
Mahan confessed that despite them not being friends, it didn’t stop Woods and Mickelson battling it out over the table-tennis table where the former has the edge.

“Oohh, I think Tiger has taken him the last couple of years. But like in Phil fashion, he works hard at it. It’s fun, when they get together, I always like it when they get together, because they are so different, it’s really interesting, because you can see how much each one wants it.”

Mahan secured his first win of the season in the Phoenix Open where he beat fellow Oklahoma State University graduate Rickie Fowler by a stroke and the elder player had advice for the 21-year-old Fowler and his fellow Ryder Cup rookies.

“I would just tell them, have fun, the first shot is going to be fun,” said Mahan.

“These fans are going to be crazy and they are going to be obviously cheering for Europe hard and you should use that, and have fun with it.

“It’s not personal out there. You know, it’s not like they really dislike you or anything like that. It’s just golf and it’s a sporting event.

“You know, it’s not life or death out there.

“It’s just golf and likely we have all done this before. If it was chess or something like that, I would be sweating,” he added laughing. — Sapa-AFP

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Pirate Irwin
Pirate Irwin

Pirate Irwin is a journalist with Agence France Presse , who has been based in Paris for 16 years having initially arrived for just a six month summer stay. Born in Ireland in 1965 and educated at Eton and Institute for Foreign Students in Tours after missing out on University by a large margin. His first name is a gift from his grandfather inspired by Radio Caroline but not appreciated by a Roman Catholic priest at christening. 

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