Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson share long embrace at Presidents Cup

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
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Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson sure seem to be enjoying each other's company a lot more these days and that's great for golf.
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Monday, October 02, 2017 | 8:43 a.m.

For much of the last two decades, the biggest rivalry in golf was between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Of course, "rivalry," probably isn't fair to Woods seeing as he got the better of Mickelson most of the time.

That said, you don't win five majors like Mickelson has without being damn good. And his longevity has been second to none.

The point here, though, is that over the last 20 years, it sure didn't seem like Woods or Mickelson enjoyed one another's company and that's fine. There's no law that says you have to "like" your colleagues.

But, at times it got downright weird.

The best example of this was in 2004 at Oakland Hills in the Ryder Cup when then U.S. captain Hal Sutton decided to pair the world's two best players together for the first two sessions of the matches.

They lost both, were distant from one another the entire time and looked like they'd rather be getting a root canal.

It was a disaster for the Americans and a tone setter for the Europeans who would go on to enjoy the largest margin of victory -- nine points, 18.5-9.5 -- by either team since 1981.

Woods and Mickelson have always been different guys -- Woods with the tunnel vision, Mickelson with the perma-smile and cheesy thumbs up.

But as someone once set, you get wiser with age. What once was a cold, beat him at all costs mentality between the two has evolved into a mutual respect and... dare we say... maybe even a friendship?

That's what it looked like on Sunday at the Presidents Cup moments after Mickelson defeated Canada's Adam Hadwin in their singles match. The Presidents Cup was never in doubt. The Americans had it all but locked up a day before it was scheduled to end. But that wasn't the point.

Woods, an assistant captain for the Presidents Cup, was one of the first two congratulate Mickelson and the two shared a long, one time thought to be inconceivable, embrace.

It was an awesome moment and one that even Player of the Year Justin Thomas joked about:

It could be argued that no two players have changed the perception of the U.S. Ryder Cup teams these last few years than Woods and Mickelson, just by investing their time and caring about creating a winning culture.

The pair spent most of their illustrious careers losing the Ryder Cup and, quite frankly, got sick of it. Now they're doing what they can as leaders to create camaraderie amongst the young, team hopefuls for both Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup in the months and years leading up to those events.

For two guys who have combined to win 19 majors, could it be that their true legacy is actually saving the Ryder Cup? 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.