Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson Entertain Idea of Possible High-Stakes Match

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First-round action gets going Thursday morning from the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in North Florida.

Whatever his motivation, it's not bad advice.

"I do enjoy it [playing with Mickelson] because we don't get to do it very often", Woods said.

"I kept on saying to myself, 'No, just forget about those thoughts, keep pushing, keep pushing and give yourself opportunities'".

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

Aaron Wise: A pretty good coming-out party for the 21-year-old, just two years removed from an NCAA championship at Oregon.

"I'm definitely not against that". "You look at it and say, 'How am going to going to beat this?' There was a stretch there for a numbers of years that it was so impressive that it was hard to imagine that it was actually happening, that he was hitting some of the shots that he was hitting and playing that well". Mickelson and Woods have been in the same group only once before at Sawgrass, in 2001. They also played a practice round together at the Masters and it was one of the highlights of the week. "We didn't know it could be played that way, and they both have done it". "You know, I think what M.J. did, getting to the Finals and dominating the league like he did, he did it in a different way than LeBron is doing it, just because of the nature of their body, the build and their game and their mental makeup".

"The biggest thing is, you're playing mental games with yourself", he said. That he will be with Mickelson at THE PLAYERS will only add to the excitement. One of the high-water marks for Lefty in his Woods rivalry came at the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, when the duo was paired on Sunday.

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Woods and Mickelson haven't been in the same group at the event in 17 years or at any PGA Tour event in almost four years.

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.

Woods has always been more effective on surfaces that score high on the Stimpmeter. The fact remains, though: Woods-Mickelson is still appointment viewing. 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 a year ago, and is third in the FedExCup.

Woods was rated among the favourites at the U.S. Masters in April, but finished equal 32nd and blamed poor iron play. That time, in the third round, Woods hit a 60-foot putt on the 17th green, finishing with a 66 and a victory the next day.

The whole golf world has once again gone Tiger mad, and for many observers the question is when, not if, Tiger will win again. I look at 2000 as being kind of the benchmark at the US Open as being the greatest golf I've ever witnessed and I believe has ever been played.

"He offered numerous times to help me out with technique and just talk about it, " Woods said. That theme took on more significance when the two - twice - paired horribly at the 2004 Ryder Cup. In recent times there has been a deep thawing of the pair's relationship. All three in their pairing are former Players winners. "We always have", Woods said.