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Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods prepare to renew old rivalry at US Open


Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Photo: Getty Images

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Photo: Getty Images

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Photo: Getty Images

THE last time Phil Mickelson played with Tiger Woods he easily outplayed him - 64 to 75. To make it even more satisfying, he won as well.

That Pebble Beach drubbing in February made it five straight times Mickelson has out-scored his great rival when playing together in the final round.

Three of them have ended with him lifting a trophy, but Woods is far happier recalling what happened the last time they played together in the first two rounds of a major - as they will at the US Open in San Francisco tomorrow and Friday.

That was Torrey Pines four years ago. Although Mickelson edged the first day by a shot it was all Woods - 68 to 75 - on their return and he went on to capture his 14th major and third US Open.

It remains his last one, but after three tournament wins in six months, most recently the Memorial Tournament a fortnight ago, the stage is set for another clash of the titans.

And Masters champion Bubba Watson is there with them just to add to the fun.

"I just feel very inspired when I play with him," said Mickelson of a head-to-head match-up that is currently tied at 13-13 with four ties.

"He brings out some of my best golf. I hope that he continues to play better and better and I hope that he and I have a chance to play together more in the final rounds.

"The feeling and the excitement I got when I found out I was paired with Tiger the final round at Pebble got me excited and focused.

"I felt a similar feeling when I found out we were paired together here.

"The one player I'm most concerned about if I play my best golf that may have a chance to beat me is Tiger."

Mickelson is making his 22nd attempt to win his national championship and has had no fewer than five runners-up finishes - none more painful than 2006 at Winged Foot when he led by one on the final tee and, like Colin Montgomerie just before him, double-bogeyed.

Despite all the ups and downs they have shared over the years Woods is not expecting deep conversation between the pair as they stroll the Olympic Club.

"I don't think we're going to talk about a lot," he said. "This is a major championship, we've got work to do.

"Any extra motivation? No - I'm just trying to get out there and position myself for Sunday.

"This is a long grind and I think this is one of those championships that I think the guys talk the least to one another because it's so difficult."