Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Tiger and Phil improve relationship with age

Tiger Tracker Tiger Woods still trying to make birdie Sunday at Wells Fargo			Getty Images Tiger Tracker Tiger Woods still trying to make birdie Sunday at Wells Fargo Getty Images
Betsy Taylor | 09 May, 2018, 00:49

In 2001, Woods famously made his long "better than most" putt at the par-3 17th during the third round with Mickelson as witness. Woods, 42, has won 14 major titles, four shy of the record set by Jack Nicklaus, and 79 career PGA crowns, three shy of Sam Snead's all-time mark.

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. His opening 73 was not a disaster, but when I asked about his day, he said he just couldn't get anything going on the greens. "Now, I don't know if he wants a piece of me, but I just think it would be something that would be really fun for us to do, and i think there would be a lot of interest in it if we just went straight to the final round".

"I'll probably be on the couch in my hotel room watching that one in the afternoon", admitted Justin Thomas, who will be finished with his round on Thursday by the time Mickelson and Woods tee off at 1:52 p.m. ET.

Mainly because of Woods, Mickelson has never been PGA Tour player of the year, has never been No. 1 in the world and has never won the money title. "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".

Of course, injuries to Woods and the inconsistent play of Mickelson have caused each to slip down the rankings in recent years. Woods' average round is 69.41 to Mickelson's 69.66.


"When you go to a big Championship, be it a major or The Players, you've got 20 to 25 guys that are really capable of winning and you know that nine or ten are going to play good that week". "I'm definitely not against that", Woods said.

"Things like that is what you need to win golf tournaments". 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.

Woods closed with a 74 to finish at two-over-par 286 at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, 14 strokes behind victor Jason Day. It's a big deal when the two best players of their generation are in the same group at any tournament, much less The Players Championship. Woods' golf game was always easy to appreciate. And the crowds, I think you notice them a little bit more around this golf course because of how close together everything is. That theme took on more significance when the two - twice - paired horribly at the 2004 Ryder Cup.

"Phil and I have a great banter". Tuesday Sawgrass saw the latest round of mutual appreciation between a duo who will be playing partners for the first two days of the Players Championship, in what represents a stunning switch in attitudes.

"I was fighting demons out there because when you're not hitting it good, it just feels like the life is getting sucked out of you", he said.

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