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Mikelson predicts lower scoring in 2001

Technological improvements in golf clubs and balls has led Phil Mickelson to believe that several tournament scoring records will be broken this year.

"The style of play has changed," said the 30-year-old left-hander. "I think it will be an exciting year because we're going to see some really low scoring, much lower than we've seen in the past. I think we're going to see a
lot of tournament records broken this year.

"Certainly, Tiger has done that on his own. But I think we'll see a lot of
guys partaking in that."

Scoring records were set or tied in 10 US tour events last year, although two of those were first-year tournaments (at Pennsylvania and Tampa Bay) and another was only in its second year (the American Express Championship at
Valderrama).

Woods was responsible for two of them - his 272 in the US Open, which tied Jack Nicklaus and Lee Janzen, and his 259 in the NEC Invitational at Firestone.

The other six players to set or tie 72-hole records were Paul Azinger (Sony Open, 261); Jim Furyk (Doral, 265); Loren Roberts (Greater Milwaukee, 260); Steve Lowery (Southern Open, 266); and Mickelson (Tour Championship, 263). In 1999, five tournament scoring records were set or tied by five players.

Phil Mickelson will be looking to be one of the low scorers he predicts in 2001. Allsport.

However, not all of the leading players agree with Mickelson. "I think you'll have some spectacular play on any given day, any given week," David Duval said. "I don't think that everything is going to fall every week."

Woods sees two elements at work. On one hand, technology has led to greater distance, which means players are using shorter irons for their approach shots.

"Instead of playing 4-irons and 5-irons into some of these pins, they're playing 7s and 6s. That's a tremendous difference," Woods said. "It's not because they're stronger. It's just because of the equipment. You give the guys just one or two less clubs, they're going to make more birdies, lower scores."

But Woods also spoke of control. He says his equipment is, for the most part, "old-school style." He has no desire to latch onto new technology because he does not want to sacrifice control.

However, he also felt that lower scores throughout the field at tournaments could mean fewer runaway victories this year.



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