Big Phil says Tiger's best will not be repeated at Players Championship

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are all smiles during a Masters practice round but it wasn't always the case

GETTY IMAGES Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are all smiles during a Masters practice round but it wasn't always the case

Tiger also spoke about his relationship with Phil and how it is now blossoming thanks to the pair's involvement at the most recent Ryder Cup and Presidents Cups where Woods was a vice-captain.

A two-time victor of an event dubbed the unofficial fifth major, Woods will be in the field for the first time since 2015 when he tees off alongside Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler on Thursday (May 10).

Mickelson was speaking about playing with Woods in his pre-tournament press conference and joked about having a high-stakes game with the 14-time major victor. "Now, I don't know if he wants a piece of me, but I just think it would be something that would be really fun for us to do".

"Trust me, I'm fully aware of how special this is for me", he said, recalling that 12 months ago he could barely walk without severe pain, let alone swing a golf club.

Woods is not quite ready to take on the role of a ceremonial player but will need to improve every facet of his game to have a chance against perhaps the strongest field of the year.

As rank outsider Kim Si Woo showed by winning here past year, however, that it is an unpredictable event. - Phil Mickelson broke out the needle.

"Fifteen years ago my record against him sucked, and now it's OK", Mickelson said.

"I'm definitely not against that", Woods said.

Tiger Woods warms up on the range at TPC Sawgrass ahead of The Players Championship
GETTY IMAGES Tiger Woods warms up on the range at TPC Sawgrass ahead of The Players Championship

"The course is set up for where, if you hit a quality shot, it's going to reward you, and if you don't you're going to be penalised". Garcia won it the following year in 2008, and Woods remains one of five two-time winners (2001 and 2013) behind three-time champion Jack Nicklaus.

Tiger Woods responded with a hammer.

The 42-year-old American - a 14 time Major victor - returned to competitive golf this season after missing most of the previous two years through injury and finished tied for 32nd at last month's Masters.

Mickelson is +3300 to win it again, while Garcia is right behind him and Tiger Woods (also +3300) at +3500.

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"When I was trying to deal with the nerve in my back, trying to come back to play, he always texted me encouraging words".

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