The abuse flowed in from all corners of golf after I suggested that Tiger Woods' rebuilt left knee opens the tiny possibility that he won't be the greatest thing in the history of spiked shoes.

But not everybody thought I was on crystal meth.

"I still think he probably beats Nicklaus' records, but now you say it with a bit of hesitation," says no less than Butch Harmon, Tiger's old swing coach. "You talk to some doctors and they say no chance it's ever the same. Others say it'll be fine. I don't see a lot of change in his swing, except it's a little more inside out. Ask me again in August. Let's see how that knee is holding up after a full summer of golf."

Harmon is now Phil Mickelson's coach, and he went out of his way to point out that his student could snatch Tiger's No. 1 spot. But is that an honor, considering Tiger's been on his couch watching Bob the Builder for a year? "Damn right it is," Harmon says. "Injuries are a part of it. It means a lot to Phil. Means a lot to any player. No. 1 is No. 1. You can't go any higher."

And over the next five years -- when Mickelson hits 43 -- would Harmon bet Mickelson can match Tiger in majors? "I think Phil can stay with him. I believe that, as long as he stays healthy."

Tiger is 33 now. He's won 14 majors in 13 pro years. Can he win 14 more by the time he's 46, which is when Jack Nicklaus won his last?

"No, I don't see him winning 14 more. But it's hard to say with Tiger. He's the greatest player I've ever seen."


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