Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson to be paired at Players Championship

Wednesday, 09 May, 2018

Woods will be taking part in The Players' Championship next week.

The PGA Tour is pulling no punches.

In 2001, when Woods famously made his famous long putt at the par-3 17th during the third round that elicited the Gary Koch NBC TV call of "better than most, " he was paired with Mickelson. As if that weren't enough star power, the veteran golfers, with 19 major titles between them, will be joined by Rickie Fowler, who has yet to win a major but is ranked sixth in the world and will be in search of his second Players title.

Woods has two Players victories to his name, the last in 2013, and is enjoying playing a full schedule for the first time since a fourth back surgery.

"We don't really get paired together", Woods said. We wish it would happen more.

"But now we're both later in our careers".

They put several other past champions and big time players together, including a Bubba Watson-Dustin Johnson-Brooks Koepka group that averages a collective 927 yards off the tee.

"You look on the United States side and you've got Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, these guys are all playing really well".

Phil Mickelson hits from a sand trap on the first hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte N.C. Saturday
Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson paired together for first two rounds of The Players Championship

"We just need to see Tiger show us that he can win on a regular tour stage first, and then maybe that will give him the confidence, but it's extremely hard to win these days, there are so many good players".

"I love it. I mean, I love the chance. we're going to have a lot of fun", Mickelson said.

Fun was not a word that Woods often used to describe anything but winning in his heyday. Mickelson closed with a 64 to win the event by two strokes, while Woods struggled to a final-round 75 and a tie for fifth place.

This year, both Tiger and Phil are looking forward to the unique opportunity. "It's a real challenge for me", he said. "You have to play well here. I'll still be grinding, because that course does demand everything".

"First of all, big picture", Woods said as his smile widened. Among them was Justin Thomas, who won the FedEx Cup championship past year.

Tiger Woods had a rare birdie-free round to finish among the also-rans at the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina on Sunday.

One year they were in the locker room at the Byron Nelson Classic when Mickelson challenged Woods to anything at their disposal. "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".

Fowler is making his ninth appearance in The Players Championship and hopes playing alongside Mickelson and Woods will inspire him to claim a second victory in the tournament following his triumph in 2015.