Woods, Mickelson back together again

"I think there would be a lot of interest in it if we just went straight to the final round".

If social media is any indication, Mickelson may have a point.

Woods is not quite ready to take on the role of a ceremonial player but will need to improve every facet of his game to have a chance against perhaps the strongest field of the year.

"Not against that", said Woods, flashing a grin. With the way Woods looked with the flat stick at Quail Hollow, maybe Mickelson had a point.

Lefty still got in a few jabs that year. In the 35 times the duo has been paired together in an official Tour event, Woods won 10 of their first 18 head-to-head duels and they tied three times. According to the PGA Tour, they have been in the same group 32 times spread over 21 tournaments. Woods holds a slim, 16-15-4 edge.

Fowler trailed leader Sergio Garcia by five shots on the back nine to play three years ago, only to produce a blistering finish on the demanding course.

"I don't think anybody today who wasn't there to witness it, and I don't think anybody before, will ever see that level of play again, " Mickelson said.

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"I'm very pleased with the way I'm swinging", he said. Mickelson went on to win the Players shortly thereafter. Woods, meanwhile, had spent a year overhauling his swing with Hank Haney and hadn't won a major since the 2002 U.S. Open.

The 14-time major champion has played at least one round with Mickelson in 22 different stroke play events during their lengthy careers, most recently during the first two days of the 2014 PGA Championship, although featured in a practice round together ahead of the Masters.

But it wasn't always that easy for Mickelson.

Of course Day also had to deal with a lot of other issues in the previous year and a half, including his mother's battle with cancer, a miscarriage suffered by his wife, Ellie, and a nagging back injury. But when they did it was normally a one-sided affair.

He comes here on the heels of a T5 at the Wells Fargo Championship, his sixth top-10 this season, one more than all of past year, and is third in the FedExCup. Despite winning twice at The Players, Woods' career accomplishments were not as impressive as his results in other big tournaments. He was there, for example, when Woods rolled in his "better than most" putt on No. 17 at the 2001 Players.

To which Woods replied, during his news conference later, "I'm definitely not against that. I'm doing better as time has gone on". "And it goes to show you that they weren't there to witness it". In recent times there has been a deep thawing of the pair's relationship. All three in their pairing are former Players winners.

  • Lawrence Cooper