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Phil Mickelson 'challenges' Tiger Woods to golfing duel

It's the dream pairing golf fans yearn for, but Phil Mickelson has upped the ante and called out Tiger Woods for a se...

Posted: May 9, 2018 2:43 PM
Updated: May 9, 2018 2:43 PM

It's the dream pairing golf fans yearn for, but Phil Mickelson has upped the ante and called out Tiger Woods for a separate high-stakes shootout.

The veteran duo will play together, alongside another marquee player Rickie Fowler, in the first two rounds of the Players Championship at Sawgrass, Florida, this week, and 47-year-old Mickelson was in playful mood as he threw out the challenge to his old rival.

Mickelson jokes he and Woods should meet in head-to-head match

Woods 'definitely not against that'

Duo paired together at Players Championship Thursday, Friday

The pair, who have 19 majors between them, dueled at the top of the game for much of their careers and are both enjoying a new flush -- Woods, 42, after making a promising return from back fusion surgery, and Mickelson with a first victory in five years in Mexico earlier this season.

They were last in the same group four years ago, but Mickelson sensed a chance to poke fun at the hype surrounding the pairing.

READ: Fan favorite Mickelson still pushing for grand slam

"So I love that we're paired together," Mickelson, a five-time major winner, told reporters earnestly. "I think it's really fun."

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.

"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."

READ: From 'burned out' top back on top -- Jason Day wins again

'Whatever makes him uncomfortable'

At Woods' news conference later at Sawgrass he was asked about Mickelson's proposition.

Pausing for effect, before flashing a smile, the former world No.1 -- who has confirmed he will play at the British Open in Carnoustie in July -- said: "I'm definitely not against that. We'll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable."

Who do you think would win a golf duel between Woods and Mickelson? Have your say on our Facebook page.

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.

They were never friends as they battled for supremacy, but they have become closer in recent years through Woods' role as a vice captain in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, and, in turn, Mickelson's support for his old foe during his many back issues.

Their surprise practice round together at Augusta ahead of the Masters set tongues wagging about golf's new bromance.

"We've always had a mutual respect over the years, and I've always appreciated what he's done for the game of golf," added Mickelson. "Fifteen years ago my record against him sucked, and now it's OK. I'm doing better as time has gone on."

READ: Patrick Reed's Masters secret? An eye test and contacts...

Mickelson said Woods' performances in the early 2000s -- he won four straight majors from 2000-2001, including the US Open by a record 15 strokes -- was the "benchmark" and the "greatest" golf ever played.

"I don't think anybody... will ever see that level of play again," he said.

"It was the most remarkable golf in the history of the game, and I think unrepeatable. I think it was that good. 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 ever has been played.

"And it sucked to have to play against him. It really did."

He added: "The guys today look back, and they say, come on, how much better could he have been and so forth, and it just goes to show you that they weren't there to witness it."

READ: Short, but not sweet -- the world's best par-three golf holes

'Harder to win than a major'

For his part, 14-time major winner Woods said Mickelson was the name he always looked for on a leaderboard.

"We have always looked at each other and said, where is he on the board," he said. "That's what Arnold (Palmer) and Jack (Nicklaus) used to do all the time. They'd always try and find, okay, what's -- what's Jack at. And the same thing with Jack, where's Arnie at. It's been either way for our entire careers.

"For me to be able to play with a person I've gone against for over two decades, it's a lot of fun."

The Players Championship, held over the exacting Stadium course with its iconic island-green 17th, attracts the deepest field of the season and ranks for many as akin to a major. It is often dubbed golf's "fifth major."

Jordan Spieth even said it was "harder to win than a major."

Visit CNN.com/golf for more news, features and videos

"If you win here, you can win anywhere else," he told reporters.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 153270

Reported Deaths: 3807
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10332104
Hinds10190199
Harrison7244111
Jackson6521124
Rankin5805103
Lee523695
Madison4964107
Forrest388286
Jones367788
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Washington3241108
Lamar296650
Oktibbeha251362
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Marshall221250
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Pontotoc202929
Lincoln194865
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Tate177051
Union171026
Copiah167040
Pike164758
Yazoo158840
Scott157930
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Coahoma151943
Simpson151953
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Adams144451
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Leake139444
Holmes132361
Tippah128030
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George126425
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Hancock123640
Wayne120623
Marion118646
Attala117534
Tishomingo110842
Chickasaw109032
Newton108029
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Clay93427
Clarke93053
Jasper84822
Stone80015
Calhoun78113
Walthall77229
Montgomery75825
Carroll74015
Lawrence73414
Smith72816
Noxubee72517
Yalobusha72328
Perry68126
Tunica62319
Greene61222
Claiborne58916
Jefferson Davis58817
Amite55814
Humphreys54719
Benton49918
Quitman4977
Webster46414
Kemper44718
Wilkinson40422
Jefferson36411
Franklin3535
Choctaw3507
Sharkey32317
Issaquena1204
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 249524

Reported Deaths: 3578
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33064500
Mobile19951362
Madison13596148
Tuscaloosa13246154
Montgomery12435236
Shelby1061677
Baldwin889098
Lee781466
Morgan686150
Etowah643966
Calhoun6430121
Marshall635355
Houston537738
DeKalb492236
Cullman451542
Limestone433345
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Elmore412964
Walker3710111
Talladega359354
Jackson329823
Colbert329642
Blount299740
Autauga278042
Franklin256434
Coffee248315
Dale236254
Chilton227438
Dallas226832
Russell22383
Covington220434
Escambia198931
Tallapoosa184391
Chambers177950
Pike159914
Clarke159819
Marion143636
Winston135123
Lawrence131636
Pickens125718
Geneva12438
Marengo123124
Bibb119617
Barbour117811
Butler117842
Randolph104921
Cherokee103424
Hale97831
Fayette92516
Washington92219
Clay92024
Henry8756
Lowndes80229
Monroe79011
Cleburne77814
Macon74522
Crenshaw72030
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Perry6906
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Wilcox64218
Sumter58622
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Choctaw42713
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