09 May, 2018
The PGA Tour is pulling no punches.
It was during a time that Woods was at his dominant best - the 14-time major champion went on to capture the Masters two weeks later for his fourth consecutive major title, dubbed the "Tiger Slam".
The last time they played together in a tournament was during the first two rounds of the 2014 PGA Championship, in which Woods missed the cut and Mickelson finished second.
That brings us back to that "big picture" thing, and the man who has changed golf at least as much as Jordan changed hoops, and the reminder that, "fifth major" or not, whatever happens this week will do little to define Woods's career. Towards the beginning part where my back got bad, we started getting on the same side of the draw but not in the same groupings.
"But now we're both later in our careers".
The two adversaries have seen their relationship mellow over the years to the point that they played a practice round together last month at the Masters.
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"I just remember that was a tough stretch of years for me playing against him", Mickelson said. "I wouldn't say he can't, but it's going to be very hard for him at his age and with everything he's been through with his back problems".
Fun was not a word that Woods often used to describe anything but winning in his heyday.
With The Players - the flagship tournament of the PGA Tour - next up for McIlroy, the journey on to Jacksonville will see him working over the next few days. "I struggled with it", he said.
"The biggest thing is, you're playing mental games with yourself". I felt like it handcuffed me", admitted McIlroy of his first impressions of Sawgrass, explaining: "I've learnt to take it for what it is, a very positional golf course. "You've got to give time to people and sometimes you don't get a lot of time to yourself", he stated. Among them was Justin Thomas, who won the FedEx Cup championship previous year.
Woods has made a relatively encouraging return to the PGA Tour in 2018 and will look to build on his progress at The Player's Championship that gets underway on Thursday, yet Harmon suspects the glories of yesteryear may never return for the one-time king of golf. Woods' average round is 69.41 to Mickelson's 69.66.
"It's a good golf course for us to showcase that, and I would love for us to continue this all the way into the weekend, as well. Every interview we hear he talks about his speed and how far he's driving compared to the young guys, but I think if he gets off of that and just gets back to putting the ball in play with the driver and accept whatever distance it is, because he still hits a longway, I think he would play more consistently".