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Phil Mickelson: Tiger Woods is ‘going to have last laugh’ despite struggles

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As Tiger Woods suffers through an absolutely horrific case of the yips rarely seen on the PGA Tour — if ever — he can take some semblance of comfort in how a somewhat surprising ally has come to his defense: Phil Mickelson.

Woods has been struggling mightily with the short game — mostly with his chipping — as evidenced by some truly horrific chips and pitches last week at Waste Management Phoenix Open. Mickelson believes that his longtime rival will figure things out and right the ship. And when that happens, look out.

“I think that Tiger’s going to have the last laugh,” Mickelson said after Wednesday’s pro-am ahead of the Farmers Insurance Open, via ESPN.com. “I think that his short game, historically, is one of the best of all time. I think his golf game is probably the best of all time.”

Mickelson notes that Woods’ long layoff due to injury has a lot to do with his struggles with the short game.

“The short game, when you haven’t played, it’s the first thing to feel uncomfortable and the quickest thing to get back. I don’t think he’s going to have any problems, I really don’t,” Mickelson insisted. He added he doesn’t see Woods’ yips “lasting more than a week or two.”

Mickelson, 46, endured one of worst years of his career in 2014. He probably hopes that his prediction for Tiger works out in a similar manner for him.

Woods discussed following Wednesday’s pro-am how his game is nowhere near where it needs to be — attributing a lot of it to a switch from old swing coach Sean Foley and new instructor Chris Como.

“The thing is that the pattern that I had with Sean is a totally different release pattern than I’m doing now,” he said, via Golf.com. “Then that affects the short game. So, my bottom point’s different. My impact points are different now. So I’ve got to find a consistent bottom, but the bottoms are different now.”

He added that his main goal is getting his game ready for Augusta and the Masters.

“It’s a process, and Chris and I are working our tails off to try to get this. I want to get this,” Woods insisted. “I want to be ready come Augusta and the rest of the majors, but we still got some work to do.”

Meanwhile, Woods and rest of the field teed off late at the Farmers Insurance Open on Thursday due to a fog delay. Playing off the back nine on the North Course opened with a bogey after a horrible chip left him way out for his par putt:

But rebounded quickly with a chip-in to save par on his second hole, a surprising development given his yips.

Could that turn the tide? Is Woods now back? Does one great chip turn things around? We’ll have to wait and see, but odds are it will take far more than one good chip to make up for the bevy of bad ones he’s hit of late.

 (photo credit: AP)