When I asked CBS broadcasters Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo who they thought would be the most compelling final pairing on Sunday at the 2018 Masters, I thought I knew the answer I would get. It was the answer I got, but I didn't know how unanimously or swiftly it would come.
"Tiger and Phil," they both said almost simultaneously.
"Then you go Rory and Tiger," added Faldo.
"That would be No. 2," said Nantz
"That would be a very good one, wouldn't it?" said Faldo.
"I'll throw Freddie [Couples] and Tiger in there as No. 3. Oldest Masters champion by a dozen years, that would be compelling," said Faldo.
It's a fun thought exercise, and those of us who care about inane things like this have done it countless times.
What's the best twosome you can think of to play in the final pairing together at a major?
One of the oddities about the careers of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods is that they've never truly gone heads up at a major championship. They've had pseudo battles where their paths crossed at roughly the same time, but nothing like what we saw at, say, the 2016 Open where Mickelson and Henrik Stenson went 15 rounds at Royal Troon.
"It's characters battling," said Faldo of why Tiger and Lefty would be the most compelling watch. "They've both been the spearhead of the PGA Tour for 20 years. One more inside the ropes in opposite corners on a Sunday afternoon at Augusta National couldn't be any bigger for them."
I agree with him (see my rankings below), but Nantz noted that one of the other names they threw out there is maybe flying under the radar as a storyline going into the 82nd Masters.
"I think if Rory [McIlroy] wins this tournament, that's going to be up there in the top five all-time Masters stories," said Nantz. "There are only five men who have won the career Grand Slam. The only one who completed the career grand slam at Augusta was [Gene] Sarazen in 1935.
"Unfortunately, all those tournament videos that are on YouTube now don't go back to 1935. The idea that you would be coming down the stretch to win the green jacket, and we would get to watch a career Grand Slam completed at Augusta National. It may not be as big as the story if Tiger comes back to win, that would trump all. But if that's No. 1, this is No. 1A, and it could happen."
Here are my 10 dream Sunday final pairings.
- Tiger Woods - Phil Mickelson
- Phil Mickelson - Rory McIlroy
- Tiger Woods - Rory McIlroy
- Tiger Woods - Jordan Spieth
- Jordan Spieth - Rory McIlory
- Tiger Woods - Sergio Garcia
- Justin Thomas - Jordan Spieth
- Tiger Woods - Justin Thomas
- Jordan Spieth - Phil Mickelson
- Bubba Watson - Dustin Johnson