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The two are arguably the biggest stars in the sport over the past two decades, winning a combined 19 major championships (with 14 from Woods).

Tiger Woods just finished another golf tournament. However, he'll be a major story line for fans Thursday and Friday, not just because he's, well, Tiger, but for the riveting group in which he's been placed.

They have played as a twosome in the final group just twice in their careers, and Woods won both times - in 2005 at Doral to return to No. 1 in the world, and in 2001 at the Masters when he completed his sweep of the majors.

It will be the first time Woods and Mickelson have played in the same group since the 2014 PGA Championship. "It really did. You looked at it and you said: 'How am I going to beat this?' There was a stretch there of a number of years that it was so impressive that it was hard to imagine it was actually happening".

"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", Mickelson said with a smile.

"I love it. I mean, I love the chance", said the 47-year-old Mickelson, in search of his second Players title.


"You look on the United States side and you've got Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, these guys are all playing really well". Rickie Fowler's 2015 victory in the event saw him birdie the 17th hole three times on Sunday, including playoff holes, to win the event in dramatic fashion.

Mickelson was six shots back of Woods that day, shooting a 72.

Former world number one Jason Day has a burning ambition to get back to the top of the rankings and he made a huge leap with a two-stroke victory at the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina on Sunday. "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. It was just a bad week".

The Masters runner-up said: "Phil and I have played a lot of rounds together, and Tiger and I have played a little bit at home, we've played a few practice rounds together out here". They represent, in reverse order, the past three FedExCup champions and will tee off together in another trio that could safely be described as "better than most". "It's a real challenge for me", he said.

This week's tournament, which begins Thursday at PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, is the last Players Championship to be contested in May. You have to hit the golf ball well.

Perhaps more than any other player, Mickelson can appreciate what Woods accomplished during his prime.


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