It's no secret that there has never been any love lost between Tiger and Phil. Phil probably feels comfortable in giving Tiger this compliment because Tiger is not presently a threat to him as far as winning Majors is concerned. But Phil's compliment to Tiger was also a back-handed slight against the great play of Spieth, McIlroy, Day, and Fowler. Trying to minimize what these kids have recently done by comparing them negatively to Tiger amounts to nothing more than gamesmanship on Phil's part.
You needn't put these kids down to build Tiger up. Everyone, including these kids, know how great Tiger was. Phil wants to win more Majors-- especially a US Open. If he can get into the heads of these kids--his chief rivals--all the better, I suppose. But not, in my opinion, a very classy move.