Phil Mickelson weighs in on latest debate
The Northern Irishman made it clear several weeks ago that he relished the opportunity to face the world's No. 1 golfer because Woods was not at the top of his game.
Presented with that challenge, Woods didn't mince words when asked about the possibility of facing McIlroy, either.
Mickelson played referee.
"That's the feel that any player has. Any player wants to play the best and Tiger is ranked No. 1 in the world," Mickelson said. "That's the type of charisma that Rory McIlroy has. He's just like any other top player who wants to take on the best. That's not any type of controversy or saga."
Mickelson scoffed when asked if Woods took umbrage at the supposed challenge.
"They get along great, are you kidding me? Rory is one of the nicest guys you can imagine," Mickelson said. "He's one of the classiest guys on tour and Tiger gets along with just about everybody, usually because he beats them and he's nice to them when he beats them.
"Rory is as classy a guy as there is. I've been paired with him a bunch and I really enjoy playing with him."
Asked if he foresaw being paired with Woods (they famously lost two matches paired together in 2004 at Oakland Hills), Mickelson had tongue very firmly planted in cheek.
"Oh yeah," he said. "I think there's a great chance. Why don't you just hold your breath and we'll see 'til Friday."
Mickelson then went on to hint strongly that Woods will be paired with Steve Stricker, a team that went 4-0 at last year's Presidents Cup.
"I would be very surprised if that team got split up," Mickelson said. "I would expect the same undefeated record that Stricker and Tiger had at the Presidents Cup. Because of that record, I think that that partnership should not be split up."
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.