Mickelson relishing Oak Hill battle with Woods
With the British Open title in hand, Mickelsonis hungry for showdown in season's last major
Phil Mickelson says playing against Tiger Woods brings out the best in him and he wants a showdown with both men at their peak at the 95th PGA Championship.
"I'm as motivated as ever to compete and to play and get the best golf out of me, to hopefully play against Tiger when he's playing his best," Mickelson said. "That would ultimately be the goal. If I can play as well as I can at the same time he's doing the same, I would really love that opportunity."
It could come starting today at Oak Hill in the year's final major tournament, where world No1 Woods and second-ranked Mickelson are heavy favourites.
Mickelson, 43, is coming off his fifth major victory at last month's British Open and his sixth runner-up finish at the US Open, the only major he has never won, in June. The three-time Masters winner took his lone PGA Championship in 2005 at Baltusrol.
"I've always been a competitive person, whether it's competing head-to-head with Tiger or anybody else," Mickelson said.
"I'm more motivated than ever to work hard to succeed because I can taste some of my best golf coming out. I can feel it. That has motivated me to continue to work hard and enjoy it and I'm enjoying it more than I ever have."
Left-hander Mickelson says Woods brings out the best in his game by being his most challenging rival.
"Certainly my record doesn't stand up to what he's done in the game," Mickelson said. "But in the last five or six years, I've had some pretty good successes head-to-head and I feel like he brings out the best golf in me. He's a great motivator for me. He has helped me work hard. He has helped me put forth the effort to try to compete at the highest level year-in and year-out and I've loved competing against him."
Asked to describe the relationship between himself and Mickelson, Woods opted to give details on how long they have played together on the once-a-year team events, the Ryder and President Cups, rather than reveal any personal feelings.
"Phil and I have certainly battled in a few majors and a few tournaments here and there," Woods said. "We've gotten to know each other over the years by being on these teams each and every year."
Although the biggest public Woods-Mickelson memory from team play is the glare the former gave the latter after an errant tee shot by the lefty when they were paired together at the 2004 Ryder Cup, Mickelson said they had fun together.
"We have a lot more fun together than I think is realised, especially in the team events," Mickelson said. "We've been partners in the ping-pong room and we've done quite well together. We've gotten along really well in the team environments."
Woods is chasing the all-time record of 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus, while Mickelson is chasing a career grand slam, lacking only the elusive US Open.
"I don't have a specific number that I want to end my career. I would like to have won all four," Mickelson said. "I'll be putting in extra effort every year now for that particular event, especially."