Pelz: Lefty ready to oust Tiger as No 1
Legendary golf coach Dave Pelz is backing Phil Mickelson to claim the No 1 ranking for the first time this year.
Legendary golf coach Dave Pelz feels Phil Mickelson is at least Tiger Woods’ equal in every part of the game – and is backing him to claim the number one ranking for the first time in his career this year.
Mickelson picked up the fourth Major title of his career with victory at The Masters at Augusta earlier this month when Woods, playing his first tournament since shocking revelations about his private life came to light last November, had to settle for a tie of fourth.
All four of those victories have come since the 39-year-old, once termed the best player never to win a major, started working with putting guru Pelz in January 2004.
“Potentially he (Tiger) is the best player in the world – and has been for a while. but I wouldn’t say he is that player right now just because of his lay-off,” Pelz, a former NASA space research scientist who now runs the Pelz Golf Institute in Florida, told Press Association Sport.
“In my view – this is probably biased – Phil probably has gained in skill level off the tee. He’s been a great short-game player for a while and I think he’s even improved that in the last couple of years.
“I definitely think he has a better short game than Tiger. I would say Phil is his equal or better in every aspect. I think Phil is a great putter and I would not trade any parts of his game for Tiger’s.
“He’s becoming a better player every year. I think right now he has the best game I’ve ever seen him have.
“In order to win majors I believe he just has to play near the top of his game.”
Recent wins over Woods at the Tour Championship, HSBC Champions and Augusta have helped Mickelson close in on his rival’s world number one ranking.
The three-time Masters champion could even overtake Woods as early as the Players Championship next week. Both players are currently competing at the Quail Hollow Championship in Charlotte, Mickelson having fallen ill on Tuesday and only continuing to play after being treated overnight for dehydration after managing only five holes of Wednesday’s pro-am.
“I think Phil is one of the greatest players who has played the game in a long time,” added Pelz, whose latest book Damage Control looks at techniques to help golfers get out of trouble.
“I think he will challenge and hopefully ascend to the number one spot this year. I hope Tiger plays his very best. That’s what I would like to see and have Phil beat him when he’s playing his best. That would be a real thrill for the game.
“I would think Phil has a great, great chance of (coming out on top). I think he’s capable of being the best.”
Pelz added: “I don’t know what Tiger’s mental state is. The mental part of the game is a tremendously important aspect.
“Phil doesn’t have to change anything in his life. On the other hand Tiger is facing trying to change his recent behaviour and I don’t know how difficult that is. I’ve never tried to do it myself.”
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