Tiger Woods enjoys Masters practice round with Phil Mickelson
By Keith Jackson at Augusta National
Last Updated: 03/04/18 10:17pm
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson continued their Masters preparations with their first practice round together at Augusta National on Tuesday.
The long-time rivals attracted vast early-morning galleries in perfect conditions as they teed off at the 10th along with Fred Couples and European Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters at 8:35am local time.
The fourball played the inward nine holes, with Woods and Mickelson teaming up in a money match against Pieters and Couples, according to Pieters' caddie.
In an interview following his practice round on Monday, Couples revealed the surprising news that Woods and Mickelson would play what is believed to be their first tournament practice round together outside of a team competition.
"I think Thomas and I will just watch," said Couples, the 1992 champion who has played many practice rounds alongside Woods at Augusta over the last 20 years.
Woods is playing in the Masters for the first time since 2015 having made an encouraging return to competitive golf following spinal fusion surgery last year.
The 42-year-old is bidding to win his fifth Masters title, and his first since 2005, while a fourth win for the 47-year-old Mickelson would see him surpass Jack Nicklaus as the oldest player to claim victory at Augusta.
The pair did not always see eye-to-eye during their long rivalry which yielded a combined 19 major titles, with Woods leading the count by 14-5 and being the main reason why Mickelson never got to the top of the world rankings.
They were also rarely played together in team competition, with Hal Sutton's decision to pair them on the opening day of the 2004 Ryder Cup backfiring as they stumbled to two defeats in Detroit.
But both are likely to be key figures for Team USA in Paris this autumn, both on and off the course, and they arrived at Augusta on the back of some excellent early-season form.
Mickelson edged out Justin Thomas in a play-off at the WGC-Mexico Championship to lift his first piece of silverware since winning The Open at Muirfield in 2013, while Woods was runner-up to Paul Casey at the Valspar Championship and posted another top-10 finish at Bay Hill.