Phil Mickelson vs Tiger Woods: Who Will Finish Higher at the PGA Championship?

Phil vs Tiger will be a battle to watch at the PGA Championship.
Phil vs Tiger will be a battle to watch at the PGA Championship. / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

The official field for the 2022 PGA Championship was released today and the two biggest names in golf were among those listed. While they're closer to retirement homes than their prime playing days, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson still move the needle more than any of the sweet swinging youngsters who dominate the game today, so their names being among the competitors for the PGA Championship was certainly the biggest news of the day.

Now, either one could withdraw from the event, so nothing is given. But it seems more than likely Phil will return from his extended golf exile (more on that in a second) and Tiger will make his second start of the season since returning from injury (more on that too) when the best in the world tee it up at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma starting May 19.

The question is, which played will perform better?

Tiger vs Phil PGA Championship Betting Preview

Currently, WynnBET has Tiger Woods listed at +10500 odds (bet $100 to win $10,500) to win the PGA Championship and Phil Mickelson at +25000 odds (bet $100 to win $25,000). We're still waiting for more prop bets (like Top 10 finish, missed cut, etc.) for a full picture of where Vegas views the Tiger vs Phil debate for this tournament, but the early indications favor Tiger. I have to agree.

Mickelson shocked the world when he won the 2021 PGA Championship at 50 years old, but the last time he played a competitive golf tournament was the end of January and his return is shrouded in controversy following his deplorable comments about the Saudi Golf Tour (and the Saudi's inhumane history) and a recent book excerpt claiming Mickelson lost $40 million gambling over a four-year period.

Mickelson will need to address both of those issues when he arrives at the PGA Championship, but more importantly to the question of this article, he needs to address a shaky golf game the last time we saw it. He missed the cut in both of his last two events early in 2022 and was likewise shaky at the end of 2021. After four months off playing competitive golf, coupled with the unavoidable distractions surrounding him, it's hard to imagine Mickelson lighting it up in his return.

Woods can relate. After nearly losing his leg in a car accident in Feb. 2021, Woods returned to competitive golf for the Masters in April. He got everyone he could out of his first round, shooting a 1-under 71, but his leg tightened up on him over the weekend and he finished with consecutive rounds of 78. He's got a balky back, bad knees and a leg that's so stiff he walks with a limp. He admitted he's constantly in pain. Not great for a golfer -- or any athlete.

The difference between Woods and Mickelson is Woods doesn't have the distractions surrounding Mickelson and has been preparing solely for the PGA Championship since the Masters ended. He had a practice round with the head pro at Southern Hills a few weeks ago and has been undergoing continued treatment on his, well, entire body since. Likely, he's going to be in better shape now than in April.

Let's also not forget, Woods won the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in 2007. Mickelson shot 6-over for the four rounds.

As far as betting is concerned, I wouldn't put anything on either of these guys to win the tournament outright. This course can now be stretched to over 7,400 yards. I don't see either of them getting around that four days without issue.

Instead, I would bet Mickelson to miss the cut and Woods to make it. As I said, still waiting on the odds to see if it's worth it. But with a large field and lower cut line, I could see Mickelson fading under the pressure of his return to public golf.