Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson to be paired at Players Championship

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson to be paired at Players Championship

It was during a time that Woods was at his dominant best - the 14-time major champion went on to capture the Masters two weeks later for his fourth consecutive major title, dubbed the "Tiger Slam".

This week's marquee grouping of Mickelson, Woods and Rickie Fowler at The Players doesn't really need any extra buzz, but Lefty thought he would raise the stakes regardless. It will be the first time Mickelson and Woods have been paired together since the 2014 PGA Championship, where Woods missed the cut and Mickelson finished second to Rory McIlroy by one stroke. "We've been going at it for the better part of over 20 years, and it's fun for both of us to be able to do that". "We'll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable".

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"I feel like I'm hitting the ball well enough and just trending in the right direction for next week", said Woods, who has won 79 career PGA Tour events and 105 professional tournaments overall. "I wouldn't say he can't, but it's going to be very hard for him at his age and with everything he's been through with his back problems". Woods' average round is 69.41 to Mickelson's 69.66. "It's a real challenge for me", he said.

The trio has four Players Championship titles between them. I think it's nearly impossible with the quality of the field and how good these young players are, and there are more of them coming along. Woods told of Mickelson sending nothing but encouraging texts when Woods was struggling with his chipping in early 2015 as his back was still ailing. Day's tee shot on the par-3 17th hole might be the one he remembers for some time.

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"On top of that, when you guys all saw how I was chipping so poorly, my nerve and my back was not doing very good and I was flinching a lot, he offered numerous times to help". That's how it always is now with Woods, who appears to care more and more about answering questions earnestly, knowing the gravity his words carry across the sporting world. "It was the most remarkable golf in the history of the game and I think unrepeatable", said the left-hander.

Their most famous pairing was when they were partners in the 2004 Ryder Cup, and that didn't end all that well. I look at 2000 as being kind of the benchmark at the U.S. Open as being the greatest golf I've ever witnessed and I believe has ever been played. Jack Nicklaus is the only three-time victor of this event, which dates back to 1974.

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Woods will begin his first round at The Players at 1:52 p.m. Thursday, playing with Mickelson and Rickie Fowler. "But I think our relationship has certainly gotten a lot closer with me being a vice captain the last couple teams and sitting there and having very lengthy conversations with him about things, not just the pairings but just about things in general".

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