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Mickelson ‘would welcome’ Ryder Cup pairing with Tiger

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Phil Mickelson said he would be happy to play with Tiger Woods again in the Ryder Cup © AFP / Lionel BONAVENTURE

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France, Sep 25 – Phil Mickelson, whose disastrous 2004 pairings with Tiger Woods have become the stuff of Ryder Cup legends, said Tuesday he would enjoy another chance and thinks Woods would as well.

Mickelson and Woods will be teammates for holders United States against Europe when the 42nd Ryder Cup begins Friday at France’s Le Golf National.

But it’s questionable if Woods, a 42-year-old winner of 14 major titles, and left-hander Mickelson, a five-time major champion at age 48, would be united in foursomes or four-balls by US captain Jim Furyk.

“I think we would both welcome it,” said Mickelson, who has grown closer to Woods since they began work on a USA Ryder Cup task force in 2014.

Asked if the pairing might happen, Mickelson said: “I do have an idea of what captain Furyk is thinking, yeah.” Asked to elaborate, Mickelson answered: “What a good looking man you are.”

Rivals most of their careers, they were partnered in 2004 by US captain Hal Sutton when they were the two top-ranked players in the event.

On day one, they dropped a morning four-ball match 2&1 and were defeated in foursomes 1up, losing the final hole after Mickelson sailed his tee shot into deep woods left of the fairway and Woods gave him a death stare for the ages.

“When we go over like little details as to why we were or weren’t successful, when I talk about it openly and try to share insight, sometimes it comes across like I’m trying to take a shot at somebody, and I don’t want to do that, so I’m not going to go into that anymore,” Mickelson said of their 2004 pairing.

Mickelson notably revealed the lack of input by players into captain Tom Watson’s decisions in a 2014 loss at Gleneagles, then became closer to Woods when they combined in a US attempt to improve Ryder Cup results in the wake of the flop in Scotland.

“That’s a big part of it,” Mickelson said. “When we started to really work together to succeed in the Ryder Cup, I think we realised that we both have a lot more in common than we thought and we both have really come to appreciate working together to achieve things.”

Mickelson said he and Woods would fare better together now.

“The bottom line is going to be preparation,” Mickelson said. “When we can eliminate the variables, eliminate the uncertainties, it eliminates the pressure.”

Mickelson, set to face Woods in a pay-per-view golf showdown in November, asked Woods to be given a shot per side for their $9 million clash in Las Vegas after Woods snapped a five-year win drought two days ago by winning the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

“I’m trying to negotiate a shot a side,” Mickelson said. “It didn’t go over very well in the initial discussions but I’m still working on it. We’ve got some negotiating to do, given how well he played last week.”

– A win to cherish? –

Mickelson makes his 12th Ryder Cup appearance, having played in 12 in a row since 1995. But Americans haven’t won in Europe in 25 years, something Mickelson wants to change in what is likely his last chance as a player.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity,” he said. “That would mean a lot to me personally. I think it would mean a lot to our team and to the United States.

“If we were able to come out on top, it would be something I would cherish the rest of my life. Because I’ve played in these events for so long and have never won over here, it would be one of the moments I would cherish the most if we were able to come out on top.”

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