Mar 30 Masters Mickelson

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There were no limits to the greatness Phil Mickelson was going to achieve when he turned pro back in the summer of 1992.

Major championships, titles on the PGA Tour, the history book – they were all there for the taking. This was a guy who won a PGA Tour event while he was still an amateur juggling schoolbooks, not to mention three NCAA titles and a US Amateur crown. With his focus now squarely on golf, how could he not make a run at Jack Nicklaus’ long list of accomplishments?

“His future,” Nicklaus said back then, “can be anything he wants to make it.”
Fifteen years later, Mickelson has accomplished plenty. With three majors and 27 other titles to his name, not to mention truckloads in earnings, it’s far better than most golfers could ever hope for.

Problem is, a guy named Tiger Woods has accomplished much, much more.
“We’ve got a guy here that probably would have been remembered as one of the greatest players in his time if it wasn’t that he was playing at the same time as Tiger,” Thomas Bjorn said of Mickelson. “Tiger just overshadows everybody.”

And never is that shadow bigger than when it’s hanging over Lefty.
Go back to that summer Mickelson turned pro. A few months earlier, the other kid from California played his first PGA Tour event. It would be another four years before Woods turned pro, but when he started piling up wins in record numbers, the search for somebody to rival him settled squarely on Mickelson. With a pure, sweet swing, exceptional creativity and folksy demeanor, he was supposed to be the Arnold Palmer to Woods’ Nicklaus.

“The reality is, even if I play at the top of my game for the rest of my career and achieve my goals – let’s say, win 50 tournaments and 10 majors, pretty difficult to do, since I’d need 20 more wins, including seven more majors – I still won’t get to where Tiger is right now. So I won’t compare myself with him,” Mickelson said in the March issue of ESPN the Magazine.
“It makes no sense,” he said. “I’m playing perhaps the greatest player ever while he’s in his prime.”

Even this week, when Mickelson returns to Augusta National as the defending champion, it’s Woods bringing the buzz. His PGA Tour winning streak ended at seven back in February, but a win at the CA Championship makes him the heavy favourite.

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