10 Reasons Why Phil Mickelson Is Better Than Tiger Woods

June 11, 2014

1. Better Head-to-Head

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods

Getty Images
Phil Mickelson beat Tiger Woods by 11 shots at the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Until 2007, theirs was a rivalry in name only, as Tiger treated Phil the way a hammer treats a nail. Ever since, though, Lefty has administered a pounding of his own, mounting an 8-5-1 head-to-head record. Over that time, Phil’s a perfect 5-0 in their final round match-ups, with a cumulative 19-stroke edge.

2. Better Durability

Phil Mickelson Muirfield

Thomas Lovelock/SI
Phil Mickelson won the 2013 British Open at age 43. Woods won his last major at age 32.

Bad back. Bum knee. Broken leg. In recent years, Tiger has worn down like an old jalopy, missing six majors — and counting — due to injury. Phil has skipped just one (the 2009 British Open) and that was to be with his ailing wife, Amy. He’s five years Tiger’s senior and not without health issues, but look who’s faring better in the fight with Father Time.

3. Better Hair

AP; Getty
Mickelson has grown his hair longer in recent years while Tiger fights to hold onto what he has.

Male-pattern baldness? That’s Tiger’s problem. Phil’s condition is male-pattern boldness, a penchant for risk-taking that transforms him into a human highlight reel.

4. Better Tipper


Getty Images
Phil Mickelson is known for his generous tipping; Tiger Woods not so much.

It’s hard to say who has it worse: a reporter trying to ply Woods for a quote, or a valet trying to work him for a tip. As ESPN’s Rick Reilly puts it: “You need a court order to get Tiger’s wallet open.” Then there’s Phil, who, Reilly says, will give a little girl $100 for a 50-cent cup of lemonade and tell her to keep the change.

5. Better Instructor

Butch Harmon and Phil Mickelson

Getty Images
Butch Harmon and Phil Mickelson at the 2014 Players Championship.

Nothing against Sean Foley and his talk of “fascial chains” and “kinesthetic submodalities.” But if you want to get an earful from the game’s top guru, you do what Phil did and hook up with Butch Harmon. You know, that guy who Tiger worked with when he was at his best.

6. Better Quote

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson

Tiger Woods at the 2013 U.S. Open and Phil Mickelson at the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open.

If you had a nickel for everything of substance Woods has ever said in public, you might have enough coin to mark your ball. Next to him, Phil comes off as a poet laureate: reflective, insightful, and refreshingly generous with his thoughts and words.

7. Better Mentor

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley

Kohjiro Kinno/SI
Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson at the 2012 Ryder Cup.

Once seen as cocky and aloof, Phil has morphed into a mother hen, with a gaggle of hatchlings under his wing, including Keegan Bradley and Jordan Spieth. He’s the partner every Ryder Cup rookie wants. Tiger is pretty nurturing, too, if you thrive on cold shoulders and icy stares.

8. Better Fan Relations

Phil Mickelson Autographs

Fred Vuich/SI
Phil Mickelson signs autographs at the 2011 U.S. Open.

Yeah, his smile often looks slapped-on, and his thumbs-up is as nerdy as a Star Trek convention. But no one goes to greater lengths to please the crowds than Phil. Tiger, by contrast, lives by Machiavelli’s mantra: better to be feared than loved.

9. Better Caddie Partnership

Phil Mickelson and Bones Mackay

Robert Beck/SI
Phil Mickelson and caddie Bones Mackay at the 2013 U.S. Open.

Fluff. Stevie. And now, Joe LaCava. While Tiger is on his third caddie marriage, Phil been with one man (Jim “Bones” Mackay) for 22 years — an enduring alliance in an age of fleeting loyalty.

10. Better Taste in Mansions

Phil Mickelson House

Prudential Realty
Phil Mickelson lives in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., just north of his San Diego hometown.

Tiger’s Florida home, a $60 million Jupiter Island pied-a-terre that boasts a running track, a four-hole golf course and a glassed-in elevator with ocean views, speaks to a garish design aesthetic. Nothing like Phil’s tasteful Rancho Santa Fe crash pad, which has a putting course, sure, and a driving range, too, but was listed last summer at a modest asking price of $6.9 million.

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