(CNN) – It’s the dream that every golf fan wishes would come true, but Phil Mickelson exceeded expectations and called Tiger Woods to a duel and with a big bet.
The veteran duo will play together, alongside another standout player, Rickie Fowler, in the first two rounds of the Players Championship in Sawgrass, Florida, this week. Mickelson, 47, was in good spirits as he challenged his longtime rival.
The couple, who have 19 seniors between the two, clashed on the cusp of golf for much of their careers and both are enjoying a rebirth: Woods, 42, after a promising comeback from back surgery, and Mickelson , with a first win in five years earlier this season in Mexico.
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“I love that we partner,” Mickelson, winner of five major awards, told reporters. “I think it’s really fun,” he added.
Excited, the current world number 19 added smiling: “We have not been a couple in years. And when I look at the front page of the newspaper and I see the couple there and the excitement that this has generated, it makes me think, why don’t we skip all the secondary stuff of a tournament and go head-to-head, and we just have a kind of match with a big bet and the winner takes it all?
“I think it would be really fun for us, and I think there would be a lot of interest in that if we just went straight to the final round.”
‘Whatever makes you feel uncomfortable’
At Woods’ press conference later at Sawgrass, he was asked about Mickelson’s proposal.
Before flashing a smile, the former world number one said, “I’m definitely not against that, we’ll play whatever makes him feel uncomfortable.”
Woods and Mickelson rarely played together at the height of their careers, and tournament organizers kept them separate to spread their best talents on television schedules.
They were never friends while battling for leadership in golf, but have grown closer in recent years, thanks to Woods’ role as vice captain in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. Also because of Mickelson’s support of his former foe during his various problems outside the golf courses.
Their surprise practice, held together in Augusta, Georgia, fueled rumors about the new golf bromance.
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“We have always had mutual respect and I have always appreciated what he has done for golf,” added Mickelson. “Fifteen years ago my career next to hers sucked and now it’s fine. I’m doing better as time goes by, ”he continued.
Mickelson said that Woods’ performances in the early 2000s – he won four consecutive races between 2000 and 2001, including the US Open with a record 15 strokes – were the “benchmark” and “best” golf ever. have played.
“I don’t think anyone … will ever see that level of play again,” he said.
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“It was the most remarkable golf in history and I think it is unrepeatable. I consider the year 2000 to be a sort of benchmark at the US Open as the best golf I’ve ever witnessed and ever played, ”he continued.
For his part, Tiger Woods said that Mickelson was the name he always looked for in a ranking.
“We have always looked at each other and said, where is he on the board?” He said. “For me to be able to play with a person that I have faced for more than two decades is a lot of fun,” he added.
“For me, to be able to play a person that I’ve been up against for more than two decades is a lot of fun,” Woods said of Mickelson’s challenge.