Win by ‘extraordinary’ Mickelson motivates Tiger

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Tiger Woods has never been one to relish victories by Phil Mickelson, but as has been the case of late, there is a growing appreciation of the World Golf Hall of Famer’s accomplishments.

And so Woods was impressed to see Mickelson win again Monday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he finished off a final-round 65 to defeat Paul Casey by three shots.

“What Phil has done has been extraordinary, to be that consistent for the length of time,” said the 43-year-old Woods, who turned pro four years after Mickelson did in 1992. “He’s been out here since [1992] and made every single team [Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup] since ’94. He’s won major championships; he’s won events.

“He’s just been so consistent, and that’s the hardest thing to do. Each and every one of us have enough talent to have little hot runs out here, but to sustain it for two decades like he has.”

Mickelson, 48, has won 44 PGA Tour events, including two in the past 12 months. He also finished runner-up at the Desert Classic last month.

Now ranked 17th in the world, Mickelson has not been out of the top 50 since late 1993.

And yet, Mickelson was talking last week about improved putting and his ability to find more swing speed.

“Trust me, I recognize this. It’s not easy to pick up clubhead speed, which he has done as he’s gotten older,” Woods said. “That’s been extraordinary. That’s what’s allowed him to stay out here with some of these longer guys; he’s been able to hit the ball farther. That’s something that he’s done. He’s adjusted his putting. He’s made more putts than I think I’ve seen in years in the last year and a half. It’s one of the reasons why he’s won two big events.”

And it provides added motivation for Woods.

“It has always pushed me,” Woods said. “I remember talking to Arnold [Palmer] and Jack [Nicklaus] about this. Any time they saw each other on the [leader]board, they would say, “What’s he at? What’s he at?’

“My entire career, Phil will probably attest to this, we’ve always looked at the board to figure out where one another’s at. So, we’ve always had that type of enjoyment of competing against one another. And to see what he’s done or to see what he did last year in Mexico at 47 years old gave me confidence that I could somehow do it, maybe last year. And I was able to finally end my season just like he did with a win.”

Woods is playing with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas for the first two rounds of the Genesis Open, teeing off at 3:22 p.m. ET on Thursday. Mickelson is grouped with Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele and begins at 10:22 a.m. on Thursday.

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