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Focus on Woods-Mickelson battle in PLAYERS Championship

News 09 May 2018, 09:33 IST
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Ponte Vedra (US), May 9 (PTI) For the first time in 17 years, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been paired together in the first two rounds of the PLAYERS Championship here.

The two have gotten closer in recent times, courtesy Woods' duties as a vice-captain at Ryder Cup. They also played a practice round together at the Masters and it was one of the highlights of the week.

The careers of Woods and Mickelson, two of the best players of our generation, have almost overlapped for the last two decades, but they have played together only 35 other times in their PGA Tour careers.

The last time was in 2014. Part of the excitement is that both are playing well and that their 36-hole two-round battle comes at a marquee event like the PLAYERS Championship.

We haven't been paired together in years, and 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.

Now, I don't know if he wants a piece of me but I just think it would be something that would be really fun for us to do, and I think there would be a lot of interest in it if we just went straight to the final round.

"Fifteen years ago my record against him sucked, and now it's OK. I'm doing better as time has gone on," he added.

Asked Woods what he thought about Mickelson's idea of a high-stakes match, he said: "Not against that. We'll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable.

Normally for most of our careers we were 1 and 2 in the world, and we're on opposite sides of the draw with exact tee times on the opposite side. We never saw each other, and that's what the Tour wanted. They wanted to get fans in here on Thursday and then on Friday, so they had one of us in the afternoon either day," he said.

"Towards the beginning part where my back got bad, we started getting on the same side of the draw but not in the same groupings. We were on opposite tees. It's going to be fun playing with him again. I enjoy competing with him on the first or second day or if it's the last day

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