AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods saw a lot of things he had to like Thursday. Phil Mickelson near the lead was not one of them.
It's nothing against Mickelson, but Lefty is the last guy Woods wants to be paired with this weekend. And we're not getting too far ahead of things to dream of it.
I mean, who expected they'd even be sniffing the lead after one round of the Masters Viagra Open? There were so many over-50 surprises you needed carbon-dating equipment to read the leaderboard.
But with all due respect to the Fred Couples, Tom Watson, Gene Sarazen and the rest, the ultimate Sunday showdown would be Tiger vs. Lefty, part XVLVII.
Only this one would be totally different. Everybody pulling for Tiger is cheering for his comeback story, right? At least I'd hate to think they're cheering for anything else he's done lately.
Mickelson's comeback story not only puts Tiger's to shame. It reminds us of Tiger's shame.
It's almost unfair to compare them, but how do you not?
The golfers have combined for zero wins on the year. Mickelson is currently ranked No. 53 on the money list with $492,729. Woods is currently unranked with $0.00.
We all know the back story. If not, all you had to do Thursday was turn on the TV. You couldn't miss Nike's new ad, featuring the disembodied voice of Earl Woods asking his sullen son, "Did you learn anything?"
Mickelson also had a commercial on during the opening round. It plugged the education foundation he and his wife founded with Exxon.
Phil 1, Tiger 0.
Speaking of wives, "Elin will not be here this week," Tiger said.
We all know why.
As for Amy Mickelson, it's also a mystery whether she'll show. Like Elin, she hasn't been spotted cheering for her husband in months. That's what happens when you're undergoing therapy for breast cancer.
Phil 2, Tiger 0.
Actually, game over. But just to summarize, Mickelson and Woods both have been non-factors on the golf course in 2010. They've both had major distractions with the women in their lives.
We can all sympathize with poor Elin, who now ranks as the world's most humiliated woman. But it's impossible to sympathize with her husband, especially when you compare him to Mickelson.
What must it be like to see your wife, the mother of your three children, fighting for her life?
Don't ask Phil because, like Tiger, he really doesn't want to talk about it. Only who can blame him?
"Things are good long-term," he said. "We are OK long-term. But day-to-day has been difficult. The medicines and so forth have been challenging, and have made the quality of life not what we want. Hopefully we are trying to work on that and make it better."
Translation: It's been hell.
Amy finally felt well enough to travel this week. It would be her first tournament since undergoing surgery last July. Phil hoped she could make it to Wednesday's Par 3 contest.
That's where the kids dress up in little caddy uniforms and lug around their fathers' club. The Mickelsons have made a collage of photos over the years, chronicling how their children have grown.
"It just makes for really cool memories," Phil said.
This year's weren't so cool. Amy didn't show, and it wasn't due to anything she'd just read in the National Enquirer.
She also didn't make it Thursday's round. Nobody pressed Mickelson for a reason. We can only hope Amy feels well enough to attend this weekend.
After Thursday, it's obvious she'll see some riveting golf. Her husband is tied for second place, one shot behind Couples.
"Something about this place relaxes me," Phil said.
Woods is one shot back after his 68. He could have shot a 78 and nobody would have been surprised. Instead, he looked like a player who hasn't missed a tournament or a dinner at home all year.
You've got to give Tiger credit. I bet everybody from Amish preachers to Muslim clerics put aside moral reservations long enough to appreciate Woods the Golfer.
If he keeps this up, he'll be in position to pull off the greatest comeback story (Self-Inflicted Wound category) ever. If Mickelson keeps this up, it's easy to envision a final-round pairing like last year.
It was a Tiger vs. Phil classic. Neither one won, but they staged a great birdie shootout.
This year's would be 10 times more dramatic. And if Amy Mickelson were there to watch it, listen very closely.
I bet even Earl Woods will be cheering for Phil's comeback story.