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Subscribe to RSS feed for News Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson pretty much stayed out of each other's way on Thursday. (Photo: Getty Images)
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson pretty much stayed out of each other's way on Thursday. (Photo: Getty Images)

All is cool and calm on Day One of the Tiger-Phil pairing

Spectators hoping for smackdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on Thursday were no doubt disappointed, says AP Columnist Tim Dahlberg, as they game's top two players instead put on a solid show of shotmaking.

By Tim Dahlberg, AP Sports Columnist

MEDINAH, Ill. (AP) -- The beer began flowing early, even as bleary-eyed morning commuters drove past the 10th tee of Medinah Country Club.

A guy in a yellow shirt ordered the first one near the 10th tee at 7:45 a.m. He was soon back for two more.

Others studied course maps and walked what seemed to be miles to Medinah's most remote corner to witness the spectacle.

They were ready for the showdown, hoping for a smackdown.

Phil Mickelson vs. Tiger Woods, everything on the line.

This was going to be good. The handful of cops joining them in full uniform were surely there to jump in just in case the two started wrestling on the 17th green.

Sure enough, it didn't take long before things started heating up. The trash talking began on the second hole.

"Nice 3," Woods said.

"Thank you," Mickelson replied.

The guy in the yellow shirt was too far away to hear. He had to imagine a conversation that went something like this:

"How can a fat frump like you make a 3 playing left-handed?"

"Try hitting a driver once in a while instead of all those irons off the tee and you might find out."

Yeah, that's the stuff. That's what brought both the early risers and the early drinkers to Medinah's back nine, where expectations of morning quiet are quickly disturbed by the endless stream of cars traveling the road next to the 10th hole.

Mickelson and Woods, paired together for only the fourth time in a major, and the first time in five years. Woods and Mickelson, the best players in the world but hardly best friends.

The possibilities were endless. Would Woods step in Mickelson's line? Would Mickelson sneeze in Tiger's backswing?

The only thing missing was a frizzy-haired Don King walking between them, chortling, "These guys really don't like each other."

True, golf is a gentleman's game and gentlemen aren't supposed to fight, at least before evening cocktails. But if NASCAR drivers can drop their helmets and go at it anytime they bump into each other, certainly Woods and Mickelson could do their part to add some drama to the first round of the PGA Championship.

That was the thinking of the swarms of photographers and writers who managed to finish breakfast early enough Thursday to join Woods, Mickelson and U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy in the featured pairing of the day.

Woods and Mickelson were expected to provide the drama. Ogilvy, a nice enough Aussie who doesn't mind letting his friends drink out of his Open trophy, was there for comic relief.

"The first two or three holes I was wondering who was guarding the media center," Ogilvy said.

But this wasn't exactly Liston-Clay or Tyson-Holyfield. It wasn't even Nicklaus-Palmer.

Nobody bit the other's ear, or threatened to eat his children. Woods never tried to kneecap Mickelson with a 2-iron, and Phil never challenged Tiger with a karate chop.

Much to the dismay of the guy in the yellow shirt, things were businesslike, even boring. Except for a few quips by Ogilvy, so were the comments afterward.

"It was a fun day," Mickelson said.

"We're here to post a number," Woods said. "I think we did that today."

The record will reflect that. All three players posted 3-under 69s on a day made for scoring, putting them comfortably among the upper echelon after the first round of the final major of the year.

They did it quietly, playing 18 holes in four hours and 53 minutes while rarely running into each other.

"No one was walking to the other side of the fairway to avoid the other," Ogilvy said, "and no one was walking across the fairway to talk to each other, either."

Too bad, because it could have gotten interesting. Mickelson probably hadn't had time yet to explain to Woods his favorite theories on how to save Social Security or stop global warming. Woods might have liked to discuss where he invested the $97 million he reportedly made last year.

They went their separate ways for the most part, shaking hands on the first tee and doffing hats to shake hands on the final green. In between, they were seen chatting together once, walking from the tee on their 15th hole.

"We were just talking about schedule, Ryder Cup, just some stuff we have coming up," Mickelson said.

That's kind of the way the guy in the yellow shirt heard it, too. To him, though, it went something like this:

"Say, Phil, I sure hope I don't have to carry you on my back like I did the last Ryder Cup."

"Don't worry because there's no chance I'd ever play with you again, Tiger. By the way, want some good NFL preseason picks?"

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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