As Tiger Woods prepares to make his first competitive start of 2017, he can rest easy knowing that one of his longtime rivals believes he'll soon be back in the winner's circle.
Woods has 79 PGA Tour victories to his credit, and his is the only active total ahead of Phil Mickelson's 42. Speaking on a Golf.com podcast, Mickelson expressed confidence that Woods will soon snag win No. 80 despite missing more than a year because of multiple back surgeries.
"Oh yeah. He's too good not to, unless physically something holds him back," Mickelson said. "He doesn't have to be the best he's ever been at to win golf tournaments, because his talent level is so high."
Woods, who turned 41 last month, is in the field this week at the Farmers Insurance Open. It marks his first official start since the 2015 Wyndham Championship and will begin a stretch of four worldwide starts over the next five weeks.
Mickelson said he now gets along "really well" with Woods in large part because of the time the two have spent together as members of the Ryder Cup committee. Like Woods, Mickelson remains in search of his first worldwide win since 2013 and he believes that Woods still has the game to not only compete, but to win against the game's best.
"I think it's much easier to do it again, or to play at that level again, than it is to do it for the first time," Mickelson said. "So when he does come back, I think he'll be able to find a way to win and to be successful even if he's physically not able to swing the club like he used to. He'll find a way to hit the shots he needs to hit, and shoot the lowest score."