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Tiger Stalls, But Doesn’t Stop

February 13, 2000

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ This was a pause, not a full stop.

Tiger Woods did not win the Buick Invitational on Sunday. But he won it last year. And he will be the odds-on favorite to win it next year, too.

Woods will not be the defending champion next week, when the PGA Tour moves up the coast to Los Angeles for the Nissan Open. He will not have The Streak to defend, either. But he finished second there last year and he will be the favorite there this time around, too.

The same is true for the Match Play Championship the week after that, the Masters in six weeks after that, and every tournament that Woods’ entry fee arrives postmarked by midnight of the appropriate date. In fact, it was never more true than at that moment when Phil Mickelson picked up the winner’s crystal and pocketed the $540,000 check, the very same moment that The Streak officially came to an end.

``I think,″ Woods said very matter-of-factly, ``it can be done again.″

This was not bragging. What Mickelson accomplished was huge, and perhaps nobody appreciated it more than Woods himself.

The left-hander was playing in front of a home crowd and pulled himself out of a loss that had career-crushing written all over it. In doing so, Mickelson accomplished what 150 or so other seasoned, hardworking, weightlifting, thoroughly devoted professionals have been unable to do for weeks. He stood up to Tiger Woods. He broke his momentum.

But make no mistake: He did not break Woods. In fact, he barely slowed him down.

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