Phil Mickelson would welcome another Ryder Cup partnership with Tiger Woods

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Ryder Cup veteran Phil Mickelson has no qualms about resurrecting his disastrous partnership with Tiger Woods at Le Golf National this week.

There are very few – if any – observers who believe pairing the two together again is a wise move after the experiment at Oakland Hills in 2004 was abandoned after it brought no points on day one.

Woods appears more likely to play alongside the steadier Bryson DeChambeau but Mickelson was nevertheless asked about whether he would be prepared to give it another go.

“I think we would both welcome it. I think we would both welcome it,” said Mickelson, repeating himself as if to emphasise the point.

He added, to laughter in the room: “I do have an idea of what captain (Jim) Furyk is thinking, yeah.”

Asked why this time around what would be different should Jim Furyk make the bold decision, Mickelson was at pains to stress he did not want to re-open old wounds on the problems of the past.

The left-hander, of course, has previous in the Ryder Cup for calling out the tactics of former captain Tom Watson in the immediate aftermath of the defeat at Gleneagles four years ago.

“When we go over like little details as to why we were or weren’t successful, when I talk about it openly and try to share insight, sometimes it comes across as though I’m trying to take a shot at somebody, and I don’t want to do that… any more.

“The bottom line is going to be preparation. When we can eliminate the variables, eliminate the uncertainties, it eliminates the pressure.

“So the more questions we have answered well before the Ryder Cup, the more prepared we are and the more time we have to prepare our games the week of the Ryder Cup.”

Mickelson is appearing in his 12th Ryder Cup and, by his own admission, his last on European soil.

He has three victories in that time but has not won away from home. In fact the United States team have not won a Ryder Cup in Europe since 1993.

“You would think that you would get kind of desensitised to it but I have come to love and cherish being a part of these weeks even more,” he said.

“But because I’ve played in these events for so long and have never won over here, it would be one of the moments I would cherish the most if we were able to come out on top.

“It would be something that I would remember and cherish for the rest of my life.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here and that would mean a lot to me personally.

“I think it would mean a lot to our team and to the United States Ryder Cup to have a victory on foreign soil. It’s been 25 years.”

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Ryder Cup rookie Tommy Fleetwood spurred on by Man City boss Pep Guardiola

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Fleetwood and Guardiola during the Pro-Am for the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Ryder Cup rookie Tommy Fleetwood will be spurred on to success by a surprising supporter this weekend – Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

Fleetwood, the reigning Race to Dubai champion, was on a Cheshire golf course with the City boss in April when Guardiola’s side were crowned Premier League champions following Manchester United’s defeat by West Brom.

Fleetwood, 27, was introduced to Guardiola through a mutual friend, and the pair have since struck up a friendship. They were partners at Wentworth for the celebrity Pro-Am event ahead of the BMW PGA Championship in May, and Guardiola has shown his support for Fleetwood ahead of this week’s showdown with the United States at Le Golf National.

“We all have these videos in the room, these motivational videos, and he was one of the guys that sent a message to me,” Fleetwood told reporters on Tuesday.

“I’m not sure he’s coming over. I’m sure he’s busy at the weekend but he might make it over. But yeah, we always talk quite a lot. He’s somebody that’s great to know.”

Guardiola gushed about his first-hand Ryder Cup experience as a fan at the 2012 edition in Medinah, when Europe pulled off a remarkable final-day comeback to stun the Americans on their home patch.

Fleetwood has made Team Europe, under the control of Thomas Bjorn.

Fleetwood has made Team Europe, under the control of Thomas Bjorn.

The Spaniard, then on a 12-month sabbatical after leaving his post at Barcelona, was invited to the tournament as a guest of European captain Jose Maria Olazabal.

“He was at the Ryder Cup in Medinah, and he’ll always mention that that’s one of the greatest times he’s had in his life being at that Ryder Cup,” said Fleetwood.

“Yeah, it was a very special time. It has a special place in his heart, the Ryder Cup, and he’s been very supportive through the whole thing.

“Maybe we’ll see him, I don’t know.”

City are due to host Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday, not ruling out the possibility of Guardiola making an appearance for Sunday’s singles.

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Magical Tiger Woods back on the prowl with first win in five years

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Golf fans have waited a long time for Tiger Woods to return to the pinnacle of the sport. That moment finally came on Sunday at the Tour Championship, and it was a sight to behold.

Thousands of fans spilled on to the 18th green to watch the historic moment, following the maestro down the final fairway like cavalry in tow of their fearless leader as Woods put the finishing touches to his first win on the PGA Tour in more than five years.

The American, who finished two shots ahead of compatriot Billy Horschel with an 11-under par 269, raised his arms in delight after the triumph in Atlanta, with fans roaring his name in appreciation.

Woods was reminiscent of his old self at the weekend: dominant, positive and in control of his long and short game. It was the 24th time in his glittering career he carried a three shot lead into the final round and converted it into victory.

But it wasn’t all rosy and stress free around East Lake. Back-to-back bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes cut the lead to two shots with two to play. However, he steadied his nerves with a par on the 17th and then closed out the victory with another par on 18.

From a television screen 7,574 miles away in Dubai, it was incredible to witness what will perhaps go down as one of the greatest sporting comebacks in history.

Remarkably, the 42-year-old underwent his third spinal surgery in four years last April, putting him out of the game for nearly a full year, enough time for any golfer to forget what a set of clubs or a putting green looked like.

During those long months at his home gym in Jupiter, Florida, Woods will surely have felt his dreams of winning another tournament were light years away.

Questioning if he would ever play again, the 14-time major winner has seen a return to form in 2018, including a runner-up place at the PGA Championship last month and five top-six finishes, including at the Open Championship.

Considering the rollercoaster journey he has been on – from comebacks to injuries to mediocre and positive rounds – his latest win in Atlanta is clearly the best stretch of golf he has played since 2013.

What struck home about the Florida native this year compared to his previous 22 years on the professional circuit were the smiles, the pep in his step, the putting and his wedge play. He cuts a contrasting figure to the one that skipped around golf courses worldwide during his halcyon days. He’s loosened up more, shows more interest in conversing with his peers and looks like he’s really enjoying playing again.

Maybe those bed-ridden days recovering from back surgery made him realise just how much he missed the buzz of winning tournaments.

Sunday’s victory – his 80th on the PGA Tour – was yet another stage completed on his remarkable comeback that will continue again this weekend in Paris.

Woods will form part of the American side that will be looking to retain their Ryder Cup title at Le Golf National. The event, which already carries huge significance, has been afforded a further boost with Woods’ sparkling form – adding to the dominance and class of USA teammates like Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

Should Woods perform well in a victorious American team this weekend, all the focus will shift to the Masters in April where he will attempt to secure his 15th major.

There is still plenty of golf to be played between now and April 11, 2019, but after his success at the Tour Championship, the pressure will be on to see Woods further enhance his credentials as the biggest individual draw in professional sport.

It’s hard to put into perspective Woods’ appeal, but to see his emotion as he celebrated his first win in five years proved how much it meant to not only the player, but to the fans worldwide and even his peers in the sport.

It’s difficult to know what will happen next for Woods, but as a fan, his constant presence, ability to fight back from a career-threatening injury and sheer magic around the greens is once again a joy to watch.

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