Ernie, Phil have warm words for Woods

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

CHAR­LOTTE — Ernie Els and Phil Mick­el­son will each make his 100th ma­jor start on Thurs­day at the PGA Cham­pi­onship, and both credit Tiger Woods with help­ing them boost their fit­ness and longevity.

US left-han­der Mick­el­son, a five-time ma­jor win­ner, and Els, a four-time ma­jor cham­pion from South Africa, paid trib­ute to the in­jured 14-time ma­jor cham­pion on Tues­day at Quail Hol­low.

“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,” Mick­el­son said.

“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 has ac­tu­ally helped me with longevity.

“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, run­ner-up to Woods at the US and Bri­tish Opens in 2000, agreed, say­ing Woods’ 1997 Mas­ters vic­tory was so im­pres­sive it de­railed his own ma­jor chances for a time.

“I was ready to win quite a few, if you know what I mean, and then when Tiger came in ’97 and won the Mas­ters in the way he did, that threw me off a lit­tle bit,” Els said.

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