Jack Nicklaus believes new Open champion Phil Mickelson is one of the greats of golf
Jack Nicklaus has paid tribute to Phil Mickelson after his outstanding victory in the Open Championship.
Last Updated: 25/07/13 7:16pm
Mickelson birdied four of the last six holes to cap a remarkable final-day 66 and pick up his fifth major title, and Nicklaus believes the left-hander can now be regarded as one of the "all-time greats" of the game.
The 18-time major winner predicts that Mickelson will be favourite heading into next month's PGA Championship at Oak Hill ahead of Tiger Woods.
"Phil's obviously playing awfully well. He would have to be the favourite going into the PGA Championship on his record the way that he has played," said Nicklaus.
"Phil is going to go down in history as one of the great players of the game. There's no doubt about that."
Mickelson had previously had a poor record in The Open and had long doubted that he could master links golf, but he put the record straight with back-to-back wins at Castle Stuart and Muirfield.
"His ability to see that he needed to adapt his game to the Scottish conditions was important," Nicklaus added. "He's a terrific player.
"I give him great kudos for what he has done the last couple weeks. I give Phil a tremendous amount of credit and I'm proud and happy for him."
Woods finished five shots adrift of Mickelson after a disappointing, closing 74 and remains without a major win since 2008, but Nicklaus is confident the world No 1 will takes his major tally beyond his current 14.
"Will he win more majors. I think so. When? I don't know," said Nicklaus, who thinks Woods' problems in the big tournaments is mental rather than technical.
"I don't know what is happening between his ears. Each person handles things differently. Winning four times this year, he had to have something working in those tournaments.
"Something prevented him from winning the majors that have been played so far. You have to give Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson some credit for playing better."