Ron Sirak

Why Can't We Be Friends?

Continued (page 2 of 2)

Professional golf is a fraternity of shared struggle. For the most part, there is a lot of understanding and compassion among the competitors. "I put my arm around his shoulder and said, 'Arnold, I'm sorry,' and I truly was sorry," Billy Casper said Tuesday about coming from seven strokes back with nine holes to play to beat Arnold Palmer in the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic Club.

"You know, we have such empathy for each other," Casper said, evoking the image of the hug Nick Faldo gave Greg Norman after the Shark blew a six-stroke lead in the 1996 Masters. It's hard to imagine that kind of moment between Mickelson and Woods. Ever.

"I think they will be used to playing with each other," said Matt Kuchar, who has the same agent as Woods. "I think they have probably been paired together a fair bit in final rounds, not so much early rounds but I think it will certainly make for exciting TV for those guys that are sitting at home watching."

Steve Stricker, who has known both Woods and Mickelson for more than 15 years, agrees that as a fan he loves the pairing, although he does think it could distract both players.

"They're going to have to try to focus on what they're doing and on their own games and worry about what they're doing and not really focus on what anybody else is doing," Stricker said. "And they're such good players and been around playing competitively for so long that's what they're going to do."

According to Woods, the very nature of the U.S. Open discourages any interaction while play. "It's such a test playing in this championship," he 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. There's no shot you can take off, so to speak."

Enough said. Play away gentlemen.

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