Thursday 22 February 2018

Mickelson convinced Tiger can regain world dominance

Mark Garrod

Golf's last 15 majors have been won by 15 different players and Phil Mickelson can easily see that becoming 16 at Royal Lytham this week.

The player to continue the streak? It could be Tiger Woods.

The run began when Woods missed the 2008 USPGA Championship through injury and Padraig Harrington won it.

But the American is favourite again after four tournament wins in the past eight months.

Asked if he could envisage any player hogging the limelight like Woods once did Mickelson said: "I think that 16 years ago nobody thought we would have the same kind of dominance we had in the game that Jack Nicklaus provided in his career.

"And then along came Tiger, so I would never rule it out. I don't see anybody in the game today playing at the level that he has played at -- and is currently starting to play at again."

Woods, who could go back to world No 1 with victory at Royal Lytham, has not added to his 14 majors since the 2008 US Open.

"I just try and put myself there (in contention)," the three-time Claret Jug holder said.

"I think if I continue putting myself there enough times then I'll win major championships.

"First of all, I had to go through that whole process of just getting healthy again.

"Being banged up and missing majors because of it over a couple of years wasn't a whole lot of fun. I think I missed four Majors just because I was injured. I figure if I'm healthy, then I can prepare properly and I can get myself there."

Woods is back this week at the course where he finished 22nd in 1996, shooting three-under-par to equal the record for the lowest total ever by an amateur in the Championship.

"I remember I got hot in that second round. I think I made seven birdies in an 11 or 12-hole stretch (he shot 66). At the time I tied Ian Pyman's record for low am (it still stands) -- and I thought that was a pretty great accomplishment.

"That Open basically pushed me towards turning pro versus going back to college. I was still kind of iffy about whether I should turn pro or not.

"But that gave me so much confidence that I could do it at a high level, that I could shoot those scores and I could play against the top players in the world on a very difficult track."

He made his professional debut two months later.

Woods has already talked about some of the rough being "almost unplayable in places".

"It changes the whole golf course," he added. "On seven (par five) I hit driver, seven-iron one day and the next day I hit driver, three-wood and a wedge.

"It will be interesting to see how it turns out for the rest of the week."

Irish Independent

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