Published: Wed, May 09, 2018
Sports | By Toni Houston

Tiger Woods to have a 'blast' partnering Phil Mickelson at Players Championship

Tiger Woods to have a 'blast' partnering Phil Mickelson at Players Championship

Frustration was the name of the game for both Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, as their respective attempts to use the final round of the Wells Fargo championship at Quail Hollow as a morale-boosting dress rehearsal ahead of The Players proved to be an elusive ambition for each of them. That may seem like odd advice for a man with 79 PGA Tour wins and 14 Major successes, but according to his former coach Butch Harman, it may be the crucial change that will enable the transition from "Tiger Hype" to "Tiger Wins".

"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 with a smile.

The long-time rivals, who have been paired together 32 times over 21 PGA stroke-play events, are seldom paired together, in part to spread more popular players across different tee times and areas of the course during tournaments.

"I love it", said Mickelson on Sunday. Woods has not played there since 2015.

"J.T. has become one of my friends, and he gives me crap all the time that he was on his dad's shoulders when I won (the 2000 PGA Championship) at Valhalla", Woods said. At the end of that year, he beat him at the Tour Championship to end four straight years of Woods winning when he had at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

Woods has already won The Players twice, including in 2013, which marked his most recent successful Tour season. Woods is on a comeback after spinal fusion surgery to ease nagging back pain that cost him most of the past two PGA campaigns.

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Some say the dynamic began to change in 2007, when Mickelson began working with swing coach Butch Harmon, who had worked with Woods earlier in his career.

Mickelson had earlier offered effusive praise of just how powerful Woods was in his prime.

The tournament was won by Australia's Jason Day, who carded a final round of 69 to win by two strokes from Aaron Wise and Nick Watney, after finishing his week on 12 under par. 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", Mickelson said. "And it goes to show you that they weren't there to witness it". It's also worth noting that all three players in this week's marquee threesome were asked about the possibility months ago, according to Fowler, and all three embraced the opportunity. I think that it was great to move it to May.

"I hit the ball halfway decent I wasn't disappointed with that", Woods told reporters.

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