Published: Wed, May 09, 2018
Sport | By Floyd Cook

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson to be paired at Players Championship

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson to be paired at Players Championship

First-round action gets going Thursday morning from the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in North Florida. "And for me to be able to play with a person I've gone against for over two decades, it's a lot of fun". I think if you look at how everyone is playing it's pretty impressive. I think we are playing well. "I made nothing. And the chances I did have, I missed them all".

"I've learnt to love it, to like it".

"So I really kind of re-dedicated myself to getting back to number one". "Normally for most of our careers we were 1 and 2 in the world, and we're on opposite sides of the draw". From purposefully hitting shots off rocks to holding court at a press conference like a late-night crooner, he is always on, propelled by an urge to entertain. "I ran into Tiger on Sunday after we had heard about it, and I think we're all excited about it".

But if Mickelson seemed a tad tongue-in-cheek regarding the big show, it likely had something to do with his long and complicated history with Woods.

The duo attracted vast early-morning galleries when they teamed up to play against Fred Couples and Thomas Pieters over the inward nine holes on the Tuesday at Augusta National.

"As I look at the cover of the newspaper and the pairing is on there and the excitement that's been going on around here, it gets me thinking: Why don't we just bypass all the ancillary stuff of a tournament and just go head-to-head and just have kind of a high-stake, winner-take-all match", Mickelson said.

"I love this tournament".

"I'm close", said Woods. "I'll still be grinding, because that course does demand everything". It's a really hard course that's punishing.

Woods was rated among the favourites at the U.S. Masters in April, but finished equal 32nd and blamed poor iron play.

"Phil and I have a great banter". For that, he needed to replicate his stunning final round of 2010 - when a closing 62 saw him leapfrog through the field to claim the title - but, this time, the Northern Irishman was unable to reproduce any of that drama and ultimately was confined to the role of bit player. "Every interview we hear he talks about his speed and how far he's driving compared to the young guys, but I think if he gets off of that and just gets back to putting the ball in play with the driver and accept whatever distance it is, because he still hits a longway, I think he would play more consistently".

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Mickelson won The Players shortly after he and Harmon began their partnership.

Woods-Mickelson pairings are rare, especially in the first two rounds, when the PGA Tour or the organizing bodies of the major championships can set them up.

"It'll be a good time".

"The course was easier - maybe not quite 10 shots easier, but it was a few shots easier", said McIlroy, who shot a 76 on Friday.

"I'm looking forward to it". "And I think it's just age as well".

"But it's going to be fun".

We don't get to do it very often.

"Tiger and Phil are still two of the biggest names in our sport, so they deserve to be talked about".

"We don't really get paired together", Woods said.

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