Tiger Woods can't wait to play with Phil Mickelson again

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Tiger Woods can't wait to play with Phil Mickelson again

In a later news conference, Woods said he's not against a winner-take-all match.

The needle is sharp as ever. He even joked, "I don't know if (Tiger Woods) wants a piece of me". Mickelson was coming off his best season, which included a breakthrough at the Masters, and he had arrived in form.

It really did. 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, however, has had the better of the more recent play, with an 8-5-1 record against Woods since 2007.

Lefty was just getting warmed up.

In fact, Mickelson is so excited that he told reporters that instead of going through the tournament, he'd prefer to just go head-to-head with Woods.

"First of all, big picture, " Woods said as his smile widened.

"We'll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable", Woods said.

Mickelson, 47, won the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship in March, ending a almost five-year drought.

"He can only say that if Tiger's not around, " Kuchar said.

They were never particularly close off the course, either.

They are also enjoying each other more than ever.

There still were some fun moments. Woods' average round is 69.41 to Mickelson's 69.66. How about pool? Pingpong?

And there have been some tense moments.

But that hardly worries Woods, who, apparently pain-free after a spinal fusion last April, bounded into the media interview room on Tuesday, looking relaxed as he flashed his broad smile to a crowded room.

A two-time victor of an event dubbed the unofficial fifth major, Woods will be in the field for the first time since 2015 when he tees off alongside Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler on Thursday.

Woods closed with a 74 to finish at two-over-par 286 at Quail Hollow in Charlotte.

It will be the eighth tournament appearance for the 42-year-old already in 2018, suggesting he is finally over the back issues that blighted him for two years. They still are competitive as ever, though both are statesmen in the game.

But it wasn't always that easy for Mickelson. The five-time major champion won for the first time since 2013 at the WGC-Mexico Championship, defeating the red-hot Justin Thomas in a playoff.

"Trust me, I'm fully aware of how special this is for me", he said, recalling that 12 months ago he could barely walk without severe pain, let alone swing a golf club. "I think it was that good. And it sucked to have to play against him". He ended Woods' six-tournament winning streak at Torrey Pines in early 2000.

"Well he has won two times there, he's finished up there other times".

Among them, according to Woods, were chipping tips from Mickelson when Woods was dealing with the yips in early 2015. "He always texted me some very encouraging words". And he offered numerous times to help me out with technique and just talk about it and philosophy.

"But now it's different". "And my short game has turned around".

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