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Mickelson is embracing his latest chance to end the drought against his longtime rival.

The only real hiccups in his game that he would disclose is feeling “mentally lethargic” in the first two rounds of PGA Tour events. With Woods staring at his every shot, he has promised that won’t happen at the start of the 112th U.S. Open.

Perhaps playing with Woods can cure whatever ails him.

“The one player I’m most concerned about if I play my best golf that may have a chance to beat me is Tiger,” he said. “And the fact that we are on the same wavelength, I’m always in favor of. Sometimes we’ll get a huge advantage in tee times, based on weather conditions or whatnot. If we’re in the same wavelength, neither of us will have a distinct advantage.”

Whatever pressure Mickelson faces is overshadowed by that of his counterpart.

Woods is still the most accomplished _ and watched _ golfer of his generation. His mastery at Muirfield Village two weeks ago _ the 73rd victory of his PGA Tour career _ makes him the betting favorite at Olympic Club to get his 15th major, first since the 2008 U.S. Open, and resume his quest of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.

Then again, Woods‘ win at Bay Hill made him the pre-tournament rage at the Masters. He ended up in a tie for 40th, kicking his clubs and cussing all over Augusta National.

One can only imagine what the tight, twisting fairways on the unleveled Lake Course could bring out of him this week.

“It’s such a test playing in this championship,” Woods said. “I think this is one of those championships that I think the guys talk the least to one another because it’s so difficult.”

At least one guy won’t be quiet.

Watson enters the group as perhaps the most overlooked Masters champion at the U.S. Open in recent history. The shot-shaping master, not an immediate fan of Olympic Club’s tree-lined fairways and tiny greens, will have a front-row look when all the action begins _ and he’s more than excited about the pressure not being on him.

Together, his playing partners have 113 PGA Tour victories and 18 majors.

“It’s going to be like Sunday at the Masters,” Watson said. “Huge galleries … two legends.”

One U.S. Open at stake.


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