Woods slumps to 55th after birdie-free final round

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Phil Mickelson is excited about the prospect of playing alongside Tiger Woods in the opening two rounds of The Players Championship and believes they will bring out the best in each other. That may seem like unusual advice for a man with 79 PGA Tour wins and 14 Major successes, but according to his former coach Butch Harman, it may be the crucial change that will enable the transition from "Tiger Hype" to "Tiger Wins".

Mickelson, who is making his 25th Players Championship appearance, claimed a two-stroke victory in 2007 - the first time the tournament was held in May - so he is chasing "bookend" wins in the last one held in May before it moves back to March.

"We don't get to do it very often", Woods said. "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, and i think there would be a lot of interest in it if we just went straight to the final round". Day's strong play through four days also earned him $1.386 million.

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

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Mickelson called it the greatest golf that "has ever been played".

Mickelson couldn't keep up with Woods in the early 2000s, but emerged as one of his biggest rivals by winning the Masters in 2004, 2006 and 2010.

Woods was rated among the favourites at the U.S. Masters in April, but finished equal 32nd and blamed poor iron play. Following that campaign, Woods suffered a number of major injuries and underwent multiple back surgeries, keeping him from competing in all but a relative handful of events and prompting widespread speculation that he might never again contend for a tournament title.

Mickelson had earlier offered effusive praise of just how powerful Woods was in his prime. Day's tee shot on the par-3 17th hole might be the one he remembers for some time.

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"You know, when I was trying to deal with the nerve in my back and trying to come back and trying to play and I wasn't very good", Woods said.

"It was the most remarkable golf in the history of the game, and I think unrepeatable", Mickelson said.

Throughout the duo's careers, the general consensus has been that there was some sort of animosity between them that went beyond the normal competitive fire. All three in their pairing are former Players winners.

The 14-times major champion said he would work on all facets of his game before the Players Championship starts at TPC Sawgrass in Florida on Thursday.

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"I was fighting demons out there because when you're not hitting it good, it just feels like the life is getting sucked out of you", he said.

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