Phil Mickelson loves travelling these days and it will be great to see him tee off at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship this week.
People say Phil is the most popular player in America and I'm sure there will be a groundswell of support for him at the US Open as he goes for the career Grand Slam.
But he has a lot of fans on the European Tour, too, especially after he won back-to-back at the Scottish Open and Open Championship in 2013, with his victory at Muirfield coming off the back of one of the greatest final rounds in Major championship history.
I think you could argue that Phil is already a golfing great, even though you associate great players with consistency and he is very inconsistent and, sometimes, all over the shop.
He plays a Seve Ballesteros brand of golf in that he can pull out some of the most unbelievable escape shots you have ever witnessed and that's why the public dial into him and place him in such high regard.
Phil plays a Seve Ballesteros brand of golf and that's why the public dial into him.
Quotes of the week
LIVE ON SKY SPORTS
Abu Dhabi Championship
6am, Thu, Sky Sports 4
8pm, Thu, Sky Sports 4
Phil is not always in control - neither he nor the crowd know where he is going to hit the ball a lot of the time - and following him is invariably a rock-and-roll ride.
But he goes for everything and having racked up five Majors, it's hard to question his methods.
Mickelson is 43 and has had some body issues - he suffers from psoriatic arthritis - but he schedules very sensibly and isn't going to play too much, so I think he can still mix it with the best golf has to offer.
And I reckon he will win at least one more Major.
Phil finished second at Pinehurst in 1999 to Payne Stewart so will feel that golf course owes him something this year, while now that he has nailed links golf he will be a big threat at upcoming Open Championships, too.
Mickelson is also a Green Jacket merchant, with three Masters wins already to his name, and must be a factor at Augusta over the next few years with his innate ability to conjure up magic around the greens.
Plus, as he has got older, he has begun to temper his aggressive game - if only slightly - and that was evident at Muirfield last summer when he dealt with a back nine that gave everyone else nightmares.
Phil has realised that he can often win the day playing a strategy game and I think he will be a runner and rider at every Major this year - but it might be a step too far for him to get to World No. 1 by the end of 2014.
If anyone is going to overhaul Tiger Woods, they are going to have to hit one hell of a hot steak and he is going to have to go extremely quiet, which he probably won't do at venues he loves like Torrey Pines and Bay Hill.
But Tiger won't top the tree forever and, as it stands, I reckon he will be deposed by either Rory McIlroy - who I have already earmarked as my favourite for this year's US PGA Championship at Valhalla - or Adam Scott.
But you'd get no complaints if Mickelson assumed that mantle.
ROB'S SKY BET TIPS
Rory would love to win in Abu Dhabi and start 2014 with a bang after ending 2013 with a tournament victory in Australia and he's certainly got a chance.
He is happy with his driver and ball combination, which I don't think he was last year, and things are starting to happen for him - but I am going to go for Thomas Bjorn again.I picked him last week at the Volvo Golf Champions and he had a shocker in the first round, carding a 79, but he went on to finish 10th, so his game is in good order. He's a 22/1 shot with Sky Bet.
Over in the States at the Humana Challenge, I think Jeff Overton could go well.
Overton is yet to win on the PGA Tour but he can look at someone like Jimmy Walker, who claimed his first victory at the 188th attempt and his second, at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Sunday, less than three months later.
However, my tip is Harris English. English led the Sony Open in the final round but fell away so is in good form. He's a 20/1 shot with Sky Bet.
- Page 1 of 1
Damien White says...
Great article. Big Phil is a legend of the game, and one of the few genuine characters left. Hes a crowd favourite too with his shot selection and great escapes. I do think you are missing one man of the list. Henrik Stenson. Yes its hard to repeat last years performances, but now he's an experienced winner, this can only help with his chase of a Major. I also have a feeling you'll see a big year from Mr Harrington! Great showing in his first outing, and starting to get his scrambling game working well again. Cant wait for it all to kick off in earnest!!
Posted 12:23 14th January 2014
- Page 1 of 1