They tee off on Thursday, the two modern day greats who have carried the Pro Golf Tour for over a decade.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods were the modern day icons, almost equal to Jack Nicklaus and Arnie Palmer in the 60s and 70s, and possibly Ben Hogan-Sam Snead and other back in the day.
It would be unfair to say it’s sad to see what the two superstars have become, because they are still out there on the tour, giving fans great rounds of golf, but not stringing together four days of greatness as they did in years gone by.
What was then is not what is today. Age and injury have caught up with both, so have personal issues too.
Tiger Woods is attempting a second comeback, after shutting it down a year ago right after he played at Torrey Pines, leading to another back surgery.
Woods has had 3-surgeries in 14-months, four back operations in all, in addition to the leg surgery for a fractured knee, suffered here in winning the US Open.
Of course his life off the course has become a public mess. The meltdown of his marriage over his infidelities and the height of his career. A year ago, his arrest on DUI charges with a cocktail of pan killers in his system.
He has been in rehab twice, for a sexual addiction and then the painkiller problems. He lost his sponsors, lost his credibility, lost his wife and kids.
Mickelson has never come off the tour because of injuries, but has been plagued by arthritis. Off the course, his involvement with a convicted gambler on insider trading charges has hurt his reputation.
But both are still magnets to the fans and the TV ratings.
Fans and the golf media follow Woods, whether he is hitting off the tee, or coming out of rehab.
Mickelson is indeed the fans man, and draws huge galleries of so many appreciative of his personality and interactions with one and all.
The stats remain staggering, considering how global the game has become, and how many great international golfers are now part of the tour.
Woods with 79-career wins and 14-Grand Slams. He’s won 7-times here at Torrey Pines.
Phil has 42-wins, 5-majors, and 6-runnerups in the US Open, the only grand slam he has yet to get.
But the drought has been staggering too. Woods last major win was here, at the US Open in 2008, before his health, life and career fell apart.
Mickelson has not won on the tour since 2013 and has not been a leaderboard top guy on a Sunday in years.
They have meant so much to the sport dating from the late 1990s to where we are 17-yaars later.
Unfair to say hanging on or just hanging around, because they are so revered, as players, and at least in Mickelson’s case, as a person.
They will have a following for sure this weekend in the Farmers Insurance Open….they just likely won’t ever win a PGA tourney event again.