Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson set for first-round duel at Players Championship

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Shaky iron play at the Masters and an ice-cold putter during last week's Wells Fargo Championship have stalled a comeback that had defied the odds and expectations.

The veteran duo will play collectively, alongside one other marquee participant Rickie Fowler, within the first two rounds of the Gamers Championship at Sawgrass, Florida, this week, and 47-year-old Mickelson was in playful temper as he threw out the problem to his previous rival.

Warming to his theme, the current world No. 19 added with a grin, "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".

"I haven't played here in a little bit now, and I'm excited to come back and play, take a look at the golf course, see how it's playing", he said.

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Woods and Mickelson rarely played together on Thursdays and Fridays in their heyday, with tournament organizers keeping them apart to spread their top talent across the TV schedules.

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Winners over the years have ranged from favourites such as Woods, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and David Duval, to the likes of outsiders such as South Korean Kim, New Zealander Craig Perks, South African Tim Clark and Canadian Stephen Ames. "This is all exciting because I didn't know what to expect".

"It was probably the most outstanding golf within the historical past of the sport, and I believe unrepeatable". Woods also sticks around to sign autographs. We always have. But I think our relationship has certainly gotten a lot closer with me being a vice-captain the last couple teams, sitting there and having lengthy conversations with him about things.

Woods won that US Open at Pebble Beach by 15 strokes and the record-shattering romp launched a run forever known as the "Tiger Slam" in which he also captured the 2000 British Open, becoming at 24 the youngest player to complete a career Grand Slam, the 2000 PGA Championship and 2001 Masters to hold all four major titles at once. "We'll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable".

Even for a player with 79 PGA Tour wins, each showing was a rare moral victory. "And then you start separating what is truly great".

"And it sucked to have to play against him".

"I kept leaving myself above the hole in places where I just couldn't miss the ball", he said.

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"I need to get the pace of these greens here".

Tiger Woods explained that when it comes to defining greatness, it all came down to how long you can stay dominating your sport. "It wasn't just for one week".

He added: "The blokes as we speak look again, and so they say, come on, how a lot better may he have been and so forth, and it simply goes to point out you that they weren't there to witness it". "Geez, I hit - one of the days I hit a bunch of greens, like 15 greens, and still I turned a 63 or 64 into 68".

This week it is TPC Sawgrass, check out... It has been awhile since he's played designer Pete Dye's demanding layout, but Woods is well aware of the challenge ahead.

"I go back to 2000 and the US Open and I look at his performance as being the greatest golf I've ever witnessed and has ever been played". "I struggled with it".

"It really is a total package golf course".

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