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Sports

AFP
June 14, 2018

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Woods, Mickelson face tall task in US Open

SOUTHAMPTON, United States: World number one Dustin Johnson leads a string of in-form stars out to deny Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson another measure of major magic at the 118th US Open golf tournament.

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Woods, whose pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major victories has remained stalled at 14 since his 2008 US Open triumph, will put his fused spine and gradually improving game to the test at Shinnecock Hills in the 10th official start of his comeback season.

Five-time major winner Mickelson will try to become just the sixth golfer to complete the career Grand Slam

in a tournament in which he has settled for second a remarkable, heart-breaking, six times.

Mickelson, who turns 48 on Saturday, would become the oldest US Open champion and the second-oldest major winner in history should he pull off the feat.

“We’re certainly on the back end of our careers,” 42-year-old Woods admitted. “We’ve been going at it for 20-plus years. That’s a long time.”

But Woods and Mickelson remain front and centre in the consciousness of golf fans — with Woods’ return from the injury wilderness and Mickelson’s return to form electrifying galleries and fueling television viewership this year.

Three-time major-winner Jordan Spieth believes a career Grand Slam for Mickelson would trump an end to Woods’ major drought.

“I think it makes a bigger difference for Phil than Tiger. I think there’s a different meaning to those two.” Either outcome, however, would be a massive upset.

Johnson, the 2016 US Open champion, arrives at Shinnecock as the top-ranked player in the world courtesy of an emphatic PGA Tour triumph in Memphis last week.

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