Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are always among the fan’s favorites each time they compete. The 93rd PGA Championship will be no exception. The two best-known golfers in the world can expect to have some solid support when they tee it up at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek.
Woods and Mickelson were mentioned more often than any other players by some of the golfers interviewed while enjoying 18 holes on Friday at Rivermont Golf and Country Club in Johns Creek. While other competitors were mentioned, it was Tiger and Phil who drew the most pre-tournament attention.
“I’m always pulling for Tiger,” said Sidney Conn of Johns Creek. “He’s the best that’s ever played and I want to see him come back and play at the same level.”
Richard Gomez of Dunwoody said, “I’m pulling for him to start up again here.”
Woods tied for 29th at the 2001 PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club, his chances dashed that year by a first-round 73. He has four PGA Championships among his 14 major championships. He returned to tournament golf last week after being idle since April while recovering from knee surgery.
Mickelson was runner-up in 2001, losing to David Toms by one shot. Mickelson’s score was the second-lowest all-time in the PGA Championship. He had that one stolen when Toms made a hole-in-one during the third round and made a gutsy par on the 72nd hole after intentionally laying up. Mickelson has gone on to win four major championships, including the 2005 PGA Championship.
“I like Phil,” said Tim Puffer of Roswell. “I love his attitude, his demeanor and the way he interacts with the fans.” Puffer and Mickelson also share a common trait – both attended Arizona State University.
Mike Ray of Atlanta, who works in the golf industry, also picked Mickelson. “He finished second there the last time and he’s playing pretty good.”
Other players mentioned frequently were Adam Scott, the young Australian who was second at the Masters this spring, and newly crowned U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy.
“Just for the irony of it, I’d like to see Adam Scott,” said Jeff Kohlman of Johns Creek, who was referring to the new partnership between Scott and Steve Williams, the former caddie for Tiger Woods who was recently fired. “I think he’s a good player who will be able to deal with everything.”
There was also a segment who was pulling for a player from the region.
Dave Morrison of Cumming said, “I think it’s going to be a Southerner, someone used to the heat and used to playing in these conditions. Maybe someone like Matt Kuchar.”
Ed Godshall of Dunwoody agreed with the Southern flavor, but chose former Clemson star and Sea Island resident Jonathan Byrd. “He’s about due for a great tournament.”
None of the players interviewed selected defending PGA champion Martin Kaymer, who won last year’s tournament at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.
Phil Mickelson with wife