Golf

Mickelson salutes Woods' win

The American not surprised at Tiger's comeback, having seen his form all year

Phil Mickelson led the praise for Tiger Woods after the former world No. 1 ended a five-year title-drought with victory at the Tour Championship in Atlanta yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Woods, 42, brushed aside 29 of the best players in the world with an ease that bordered on contempt, strolling to a two-stroke victory at East Lake.

Mickelson, who will face Woods in a lucrative head-to-head shoot-out in Las Vegas in November, said he had never doubted that the 14-time Major winner would add to his collection of PGA Tour titles.

"He's played such good golf all year that it is just not surprising," Mickelson said.

"Tiger's played so well on a very difficult golf course and we almost kind of expected it.

"We never doubted he would not win again, the way he's been swinging the club and the way he's being playing.

"It was just a matter of time." The victory lifts Woods tally to 80 PGA Tour titles and just three wins shy of becoming the most successful player in the history of the PGA Tour.

Mickelson, meanwhile, said he is looking forward to joining up with Woods for this week's Ryder Cup in Versailles, France, despite a poor showing at East Lake which saw the 48-year-old finish last on 13 over par.

I was having a hard time not crying on the last hole. I just can’t believe I pulled this off... I just didn’t know whether this would ever happen again. It means a lot. It really does. Tiger Woods

"It was not the week I would have liked heading into any big tournament, but next week in France is going to be totally different with different grass, different course and different everything so we'll see," he said.

"It's going to be a special week and with Patrick (Reed) and I playing together today, we were talking about it and it's going to be a fun and exciting week." - AFP


MOST CAREER WINS ON THE PGA TOUR

  • Sam Snead : 82
  • Tiger Woods: 80
  • Jack Nicklaus: 73
  • Ben Hogan: 64
  • Arnold Palmer: 62

MOST WINS IN MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • Jack Nicklaus: 18 (Winning span 1962-1986)
  • Tiger Woods: 14 (1997 -2008)
  • Walter Hagen: 11 (1914-1929)
  • Ben Hogan: 9 (1946 -1953)
  • Gary Player: 9 (1959-1978)

Tiger can still match my 18 Majors: Nicklaus

Woods looked destined to surpass Jack Nicklaus when he clinched his 14th Major at the 2008 US Open before his career hit the rails after a sex scandal and then a debilitating back injury.

Nobody has ever previously won more than one Major after turning 43, as Woods will be in December, but Nicklaus thinks times are changing.

"With today's equipment and the way the guys take care of themselves, they could play well into their 50s," he told the Golf Channel.

"Maybe Tiger's got another 40 Majors to play. Out of 40 Majors can he win five of them, I don't know?

"He's playing well enough. It depends how much he wants to work at it, how interested he is and long he wants to make a commitment to do that."

Nicklaus won his 16th and 17th Majors at the age of 40, but then endured a six-year drought before claiming the 1986 Masters in what proved a fitting climax to his career.

Many had already written Nicklaus off by then, but he did not really care, shrugging off the negativity as noise to be ignored.

"What people say doesn't mean anything," he said.

"It's what you think.

"What's important is what Tiger was thinking. I'm proud of him. He's worked very hard to get his golf game back."

Meanwhile, Justin Rose clinched the FedExCup and the US$10 million (S$13.6m) prize that accompanies it after finishing equal fourth at the Tour Championship. - REUTERS

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