Photo and video of the Masters Champions Dinner

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Phil Mickelson carved a Hall of Fame career out of the Tiger Woods era.

He is the best player of his generation not named Tiger.

Those aren’t consolation prizes.

Those are triumphs to be celebrated as Mickelson gears up for another Masters, because Tiger’s shadow could stifle growth. As much life as Woods breathed into the game, he could suck the oxygen off a tee box. Woods won so many Tour titles (79) and so many majors (14), there were fewer for everybody else to win.

“If you take away Tiger Woods, Phil probably gets 10 to 12 majors,” Fred Couples said Tuesday.

That’s the flip side of all that Mickelson has achieved, but he refuses to limit his vision to a view that narrow.

“It’s very possible that that’s the case, and it’s also possible that he brought out the best in me, and forced me to work harder and focus, to ultimately achieve the success I’ve had,” Mickelson said. “And it’s hard to determine, looking back, which one it is.

“I know I’ve appreciated the challenge of playing and competing against him, and I also appreciate the level of greatness that he’s achieved in his career.”

That’s vintage Mickelson. He went even further, telling reporters he is grateful for all the beatings Woods gave him. Well, not in those words, exactly, but listen

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