If there was no Tiger Woods, how many more major wins for Mickelson, Els?

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If there was no Tiger Woods, how many more major wins for Mickelson, Els?

PGA Tour

If there was no Tiger Woods, how many more major wins for Mickelson, Els?

CHARLOTTE – As Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els celebrated what will be a major milestone for each of them this week – 100 career major starts apiece – an interesting question was posed to the two 47-year-old Hall of Famers.

Do you guys sometimes wonder how many more majors you might have won if Tiger had taken up another sport?

Said Mickelson, who has five major titles to his credit and has won three of the four majors while also finishing runner-up at the U.S. Open six times: “I feel as though had Tiger not come around, I don’t feel I would have pushed myself to achieve what I ended up achieving, because he forced everybody to get the best out of themselves. He forced everybody to work a little bit harder. He forced everybody to look at fitness as a big part of the game of golf, and I think that’s actually helped me with longevity, working with my trainer, Sean Cochran, for 14 years now, trying to stay flexible and so forth to elongate the career. And I feel like that’s been a big part of it and he was a big influence on that.

“So I don’t think I would have had the same level of success had he not come around.”

Els, a four-time major champ, differed from Mickelson: “I won a couple early on, so I was ready to win quite a few, if you know what I mean. And then when Tiger came in ’97, and him winning the Masters in the way he did, you know, that kind of threw me off a little bit. I thought I was really one of the top players, which I was, but that was a pretty special display of golf.”

While Mickelson finished runner-up to Woods just once in a major (2002 U.S. Open), Els was second to Woods twice, at the 2000 U.S. Open and 2000 British Open.

“I had quite a few run-ins with him in majors,” Els said. “It wasn’t really very close, but I finished second to him many times. Personally, I could have obviously won a couple more, but as Phil says, this guy was so special, he’s so special, and he absolutely changed the game. He got us to really elevate our games, brought so much more attention to the sport, and obviously a lot more dollars to play for. So we’ve got to thank him.

“But, you know, I could have had a couple more, definitely, without him around.”

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