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

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will tee it up together at TPC Sawgrass

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will tee it up together at TPC Sawgrass. Getty Images

In 2001, Woods famously made his long "better than most" putt at the par-3 17th during the third round with Mickelson as witness. That may seem like unusual advice for a man with 79 PGA Tour wins and 14 Major successes, but according to his former coach Butch Harman, it may be the crucial change that will enable the transition from "Tiger Hype" to "Tiger Wins".

McIlroy - playing competitively for the first time since the Masters last month - once again struggled with his game, while Woods had his first birdie-free round since the 2014 WGC championship at Doral as he struggled with his putting.

"We don't get the opportunity to do it very often", Woods, 42, said (via ESPN). "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".

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Woods and Mickelson, along with Rickie Fowler, begin their Thursday round at 1:52 p.m. ET. "And it sucked to have to play against him".

"I feel like I'm hitting the ball well enough and just trending in the right direction for next week", said Woods, who has won 79 career PGA Tour events and 105 professional tournaments overall. He mused on the golf industry, mentioning that the current country club model is "not sustainable", and reflected on the peak of his own career: "I mean, I played well, I thought well, I putted well", he said. Woods has not played there since 2015.

That Woods and Phil Mickelson once had one of golf's most intense rivalries is as well known as the mutual antipathy that existed while it was going on. Woods went on to win the tournament that week. "His mom and dad are fantastic, and just to have dinner with him to celebrate, that's very special when you're able to do that, and for him to share with mom and dad like that I think was probably even more special". Although Woods' accomplishments are the stuff of legend, he and Mickelson crossed paths rarely in those prime years.

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In 2005 at Doral, the two set out on Sunday in the final group, with Woods closing in 66 to clip Mickelson by a stroke, in what is considered one of the decade's most entertaining duels. That's how it always is now with Woods, who appears to care more and more about answering questions earnestly, knowing the gravity his words carry across the sporting world. At the time, Woods was just weeks away from completing the Tiger Slam by winning the Masters to claim his fourth consecutive major title.

"It's not so bad when you miss the greens if you miss them in the correct spots".

Shane Lowry had three birdies and a lone bogey - on the 15th, after driving into a fairway bunker - to close with a 69 for 284, level par, which gave him a tied-35th finish as he moves on to The Players at Sawgrass.

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"Phil and I have a great banter".

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