NBC’s controversial lead golf announcer Johnny Miller has said that he believes Tiger Woods has a near equal in talent—newly crowned Players champion Phil Mickelson—but claims that Mickelson is suffering a hangover from inadequate coaching early in his career.
Miller made his comments on-air during NBC’s broadcast of the final round of the Players on Sunday, when Mickelson won his 31st career title at the famed Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
“You know, if there was some way to rank talent Phil has got to be really close to Tiger,” Miller said. “Those two I believe are way out ahead of everybody else.”
According to the hall-of-fame legend, Mickelson’s career has been hampered because he did not have the level of coaching support that Woods has enjoyed. “Phil has had not as good a coaching throughout his career in my estimation. Tiger has had guys—psychiatrists and you name it—right from the get-go, even when he was a teenager, so he had better coaching at a younger age,” Miller continued. “He’s getting older at age 36 but Phil is so loaded with talent that if he can get on a good swing technique that is reliable who knows what he could do.”
In a highly publicized move, Mickelson recently split with longtime instructor Rick Smith and joined forces with Butch Harmon, who famously spent a decade as Woods’s teacher. Since pairing with Harmon, Mickelson has won once and finished third twice in three events and has spoken openly of being “excited” at the prospect of making a run at Woods’ number one ranking.
At last year’s US Open—when Mickelson famously collapsed on the final hole to lose the tournament—an exasperated Miller seemed eager to coach Mickelson himself from the booth. “You couldn’t have made worse decisions than he’s had on this hole,” the announcer said at the time. “You don’t have to ride down the stretch on a white stallion. You can limp in. This is one of the worst collapses in U.S. Open history.”