Tiger, Mickelson together again at Players Championship

Miami (AFP) –


Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will play together alongside Rickie Fowler in one of two feature pairings announced Sunday for the first two rounds of next week's US PGA Players Championship.

It will be the first time Mickelson and Woods have been paired together since the 2014 PGA Championship, where Woods missed the cut and Mickelson finished second to Rory McIlroy by one stroke.

McIlroy, a four-time major winner, was part of the other feature group announced, being joined by Americans Jordan Spieth, a three-time major winner and reigning British Open champion, and Justin Thomas, who won last year's PGA Championship.

It will be the first time since 2001 that Mickelson and Woods have been paired together at the Players, which begins Thursday at TPC Sawgrass.

The long-time rivals, who have been paired together 32 times over 21 PGA stroke-play events, are seldom paired together, in part to spread more popular players across different tee times and areas of the course during tournaments.

Woods, 42, has won 14 major titles, four shy of the record set by Jack Nicklaus, and 79 career PGA crowns, three shy of Sam Snead's all-time mark.

Woods is on a comeback after spinal fusion surgery to ease nagging back pain that cost him most of the past two PGA campaigns. He had two top-five finishes in Masters tuneup events in March, his first contending roles in years exciting hopes for the Masters before he shared 32nd at Augusta National.

Mickelson, a 47-year-old left-hander, owns five major titles and has 43 US PGA triumphs.

All three in their pairing are former Players winners. Woods took the trophy in 2001 and 2013, Mickelson was the 2007 champion and Fowler won the 2015 title.

McIlroy, Spieth and Thomas each seek their first Players triumph.

South Korea's Kim Si-woo is the defending champion at the Players, which moves from May to March next year as the PGA Championship moves from August to May.