As Tiger Woods prepares to defend his Masters title this week, Phil Mickelson has paid tribute to his former rival, calling his victory at Augusta National last year “one of the greatest feats in the history of sport”.
Mickelson, a three-time winner of the Green Jacket, joined millions around the world in watching as Woods ended an 11-year wait to add to his major haul by triumphing in thrilling fashion at Augusta in April 2019.
The 50-year-old left-hander was so impressed by it that he left a handwritten congratulatory note in Woods’ locker before he left for home.
Ahead of this week’s COVID-delayed tournament, Mickelson was asked about Woods’ win.
“I thought that it was one of the greatest feats in the history of sports,” he said. “I thought it was an incredible comeback knowing many of the challenges he has gone through over the last few years prior to the win, and the physical and mental fortitude that it takes to come out on top in a major championship. The way he played, it was one of the greatest feats I think of all time.
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“I was really happy for him and happy to see him do that, and also I think it provides a little bit of inspiration or a lot of us.”
Recalling the note he left for Woods, Mickelson added: “I finished early and there was a storm coming in. Amy and I would have stayed and watched, because I think it was one of those great feats in sports. But we ended up heading out, and so I just wanted him to know that we were thinking of him.”
Mickelson played a practice round at Augusta today with Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman is, of course, just a Masters victory away from becoming the sixth player to complete the career grand slam.
As far as Mickelson is concerned, the sight of McIlroy slipping into a Green Jacket is a matter of 'when' and not 'if'.
“The guy is as complete a player as there is, as well as smart, knowledgeable and works hard,” he said. “So he'll win and complete the grand slam. He's too great a player not to. He's had a lot of great opportunities, and he's going to continue to do so.
“He's playing beautifully. I would be shocked if he wasn't in contention with a great chance on Sunday.
“I remember when I was trying to win a major, any major, and I struggled for many years, but I always knew and believed it would happen and, eventually, at age 33, it did. He has so many majors already and such a strong game that winning a Masters will happen. And when it does, I think he's going to win a few.”