Phil Mickelson: Tiger will re-emerge

ByBob Harig ESPN logo
Thursday, February 5, 2015

SAN DIEGO -- Phil Mickelsonsays he sympathizes with the short-game woes that are plaguing Tiger Woods but feels it won't take long for him to emerge from those struggles.

Mickelson is playing in his hometown event on the PGA Tour -- the Farmers Insurance Open -- a tournament he has won three times while Woods has won it on seven occasions.

"I think that Tiger's going to have the last laugh,'' Mickelson said after the pro-am at Torrey Pines. "I think that his short game, historically, is one of the best of all time. I think his golf game is probably the best of all time.

"The short game, when you haven't played, it's the first thing to feel uncomfortable and the quickest thing to get back. I don't think he's going to have any problems, I really don't. We all, myself included, have had stretches where we feel a little uncomfortable, we don't hit it solid, and usually it's just a small tweak. Because it's such a short swing it's not a hard thing to fix. I just don't see that lasting more than a week or two.''

Woods had at least seven occasions last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open where he left a chip shot or a pitch shot short. He had similar difficulties in December at the Hero World Challenge. He admitted after some more shaky chipping during the pro-am that it is a struggle for him at the moment.

"It's happened to me a number of times where I have gone through spells where I had trouble chipping the ball close, chipping it solid,'' Mickelson said. "But it comes back. It's not like it's a big concern. As long as he's healthy and as long as he can swing the club the way he's swinging it, with the speed he's swinging at, I think his game will come back pretty quickly.''

Mickelson, 44, is coming off one of the worst years of his Hall of Fame career. He posted just two top-10s in 2014 and after what he said was a productive offseason, was not in contention two weeks ago at the Humana Challenge and missed the cut last week in Phoenix.

Considered one of the best short-game players, Mickelson said he does not agree with the concept of matching the short game to the long game. Woods said he has been consistent with this process, adopting Sean Foley's teaching into his short game along with Chris Como now.

"The patterns are polar opposites,'' Woods said.

Mickelson said he has not followed that philosophy.

"In my view, there's a million ways to swing a golf club,'' Mickelson said. "We have guys like Jim Furyk's golf swing and Adam Scott's golf swing and they both have tremendous command of their game, their swing, their ball flight. And those are totally different swings. And you can swing it a million different ways and be effective. I think that you can putt a million different ways and be effective.

"But there's only one way to chip effectively. So regardless of how you swing the club, regardless of how you putt, there's only one way to chip, because the leading edge on a 60-degree wedge is coming into the ball first. And everything you do chipping is to get, keep the leading edge down. So there's three or four fundamentals on chipping that everybody has to do to chip well. No matter who you are. And it has nothing to do with your swing.''

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