- Associated Press - Friday, August 30, 2013

NORTON, MASS. (AP) - Five years later, about the only thing that hasn’t changed are the names.

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott are in the same group for the opening two rounds of the Deutsche Bank Championship, starting on the 10th tee Friday morning and then playing before what should be a full house Saturday afternoon at the TPC Boston.

The last time this trio was grouped together, the stakes and the venue could not have been more different. It was the U.S. Open, not a FedEx Cup playoff event. It was along the Pacific coastline of Torrey Pines, not the tree-lined fairways of the TPC Boston.

There were some other differences.

Woods played that 2008 U.S. Open with a shattered left knee and two stress fractures in his leg. Now he has a sore back.

Scott was playing with a broken bone near his right pinkie finger from when a friend slammed his hand in a car door a month earlier. There is nothing broken about him now, not after the Masters champion played a bogey-free round at Liberty National last week to win The Barclays.

Mickelson played Torrey Pines _ then the longest course in major championship history _ without a driver in his bag.

Now? Well, some things never change.

Mickelson often changes up his bag, though he found a 3-wood that works similar to a driver. It’s hard to question the strategy after he won the British Open with a 3-wood off the tee and off the fairway to reach the par-5 17th hole in two, a pivotal moment in his rally at Muirfield.

“And here we are, five years later and very similar standings,” Mickelson said Thursday evening. “I love playing with both Adam and Tiger. Adam is a great guy and Tiger brings out the best in me. I think we’re going to push each other. I expect all three of us to play very well.”

Woods won that U.S. Open for his 14th major, and he hasn’t won another major since then. Mickelson finished seven shots behind, Scott was another shot back.

“The buildup to that event was huge,” Scott said. “And just to be even the third wheel in that group was really something I’ll remember forever. So it might be the same tomorrow. I don’t know, but it will be fun no matter what. We’re all playing really well this year. So hopefully, we can push each other along and make a lot of birdies, and it will be an enjoyable couple of days.”

So who’s the third wheel now?

“It would be me again,” Scott said with a laugh.

Those three players also are seen as the top candidates as player of the year _ Scott and Mickelson both have a major among their two PGA Tour wins (Mickelson picked up another significant win at the Scottish Open), while Woods has five wins and no majors. Woods is still the heavy favorite, though a FedEx Cup title for Scott and Mickelson might change that.

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