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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: 308737

Reported Deaths: 7139
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20931250
Hinds19961410
Harrison17562303
Rankin13369277
Jackson13156243
Madison9950212
Lee9890170
Jones8310161
Forrest7542148
Lauderdale7221237
Lowndes6289144
Lamar613384
Lafayette6072117
Washington5291133
Bolivar4776129
Oktibbeha457197
Panola4458103
Pearl River4437141
Warren4299119
Marshall4286102
Pontotoc417572
Monroe4062132
Union404675
Neshoba4005176
Lincoln3886109
Hancock373385
Leflore3471124
Sunflower331589
Tate325384
Pike3215105
Scott311472
Yazoo305069
Alcorn299465
Itawamba297877
Copiah293965
Coahoma290479
Simpson289586
Tippah285168
Prentiss276659
Marion266279
Leake261773
Wayne261541
Grenada256484
Covington255280
Adams246982
Newton245761
George238547
Winston226081
Tishomingo222567
Jasper220048
Attala213673
Chickasaw205457
Holmes187172
Clay183254
Stone179733
Clarke177776
Tallahatchie176140
Calhoun165431
Yalobusha160136
Smith159334
Walthall131043
Greene129633
Lawrence126623
Noxubee126534
Montgomery125742
Perry125238
Carroll120926
Amite120741
Webster113832
Jefferson Davis105532
Tunica103225
Claiborne101330
Benton97525
Kemper95628
Humphreys94632
Franklin82923
Quitman78916
Choctaw73917
Wilkinson65128
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49817
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 521623

Reported Deaths: 10739
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754061493
Mobile39067799
Madison34040496
Tuscaloosa25367444
Montgomery24019567
Shelby23186239
Baldwin20701302
Lee15589165
Calhoun14342311
Morgan14158271
Etowah13685346
Marshall11995220
Houston10404278
Elmore10011200
Limestone9852147
Cullman9503189
St. Clair9463234
Lauderdale9265228
DeKalb8757181
Talladega8115171
Walker7139275
Jackson6756110
Autauga6750103
Blount6519134
Colbert6229130
Coffee5424113
Dale4772111
Russell430038
Franklin420782
Chilton4101109
Covington4061114
Tallapoosa3907146
Escambia390174
Dallas3525149
Chambers3514122
Clarke347060
Marion3072100
Pike306176
Lawrence295995
Winston273172
Bibb256059
Marengo248361
Geneva246075
Pickens233259
Barbour226455
Hale218575
Butler212967
Fayette209460
Henry188044
Cherokee182644
Randolph177241
Monroe172540
Washington165238
Macon155648
Clay150155
Crenshaw149457
Cleburne146741
Lamar139734
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124427
Bullock121640
Conecuh109428
Perry107626
Sumter103232
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
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