Golf: Tiger toothless? But Mickelson says Woods will bounce back and have last laugh

Tiger Woods approaching the green on the third hole of the North Course during the Farmers Insurance Open Pro Am at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Feb 4, 2015 in San Diego, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
Tiger Woods approaching the green on the third hole of the North Course during the Farmers Insurance Open Pro Am at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Feb 4, 2015 in San Diego, California. -- PHOTO: AFP

LA JOLLA, California (Reuters) - Tiger Woods may be coming off his worst round as a professional but long-time rival Phil Mickelson said on Wednesday the 14-time major champion will have the last laugh on critics suggesting he has the yips.

Mickelson said it is only a matter of time before Woods, who is struggling in his return to competitive golf after a long layoff due to a back injury, rediscovers his form.

"Tiger's going to have the last laugh. I think that his short game, historically, is one of the best of all time and I think his golf game is probably the best of all time," Mickelson said ahead of this week's Farmers Insurance Open.

"When you haven't played, it's (short game) the first thing to feel uncomfortable and the quickest thing to get back."

Woods fired an 82 last week in Phoenix during a round where he sprayed drives, flew approach shots over greens, flubbed chips and missed short putts in his second event in five months.

He will be in familiar surroundings this week at Torrey Pines where he has won seven times and also claimed the 2008 US Open.

"I think we all, myself included, have had stretches where we feel a little uncomfortable, we don't hit it solid, and usually it's just a small tweak," said Mickelson.

"Because it's such a short swing, it's not a hard thing to fix. I just don't see that lasting more than a week or two."

Mickelson, a 42-time winner, is enduring a win drought of his own, having gone over 18 months since claiming the 2013 British Open.