Storylines abound at Sawgrass, Mickelson aims high

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida, (Reuters) – Golf fans are  spoilt for choice with a plethora of mouthwatering storylines  for this week’s Players Championship where Phil Mickelson has a  chance to replace Tiger Woods as world number one.

While Mickelson could take over at the top for the first  time, Woods will be aiming to bounce back from his woeful  performance at last week’s Quail Hollow Championship where he  missed the cut for only the sixth time as a professional.

In other intriguing scenarios, Britain’s Rory McIlroy will  be seeking a second successive PGA Tour victory following his  scintillating display at Quail Hollow and Swede Henrik Stenson  will be defending the title he won by four shots last year.

Mickelson’s bid to reach the top of the world rankings has attracted most of the attention in the build-up to tomorrow’s  opening round at the TPC Sawgrass, although the American  left-hander prefers not to be distracted by the topic.

“It’s certainly something that I have been striving for but  have not achieved yet, so it would mean a lot to me,” Masters  champion Mickelson told reporters at Sawgrass yesterday.

“But for me to accomplish that, I can’t focus on that. I’ve  got to go out and get ready to play this golf course because  it’s not an easy challenge. I’ve got a lot of work ahead.”

The only way for four-times major winner Mickelson to take  over at the top would be if he wins on Sunday and Woods finishes  outside the top five.

Woods, who has been world number one for 258 consecutive  weeks and for a total of 598 in his glittering career, was  unfazed by the prospect of being dethroned.

“I’ve had it happen before,” the 14-times major champion  said, referring to former world number ones David Duval and  Fijian Vijay Singh.

“The whole idea to be No. 1 and continue being No. 1, you  have to win tournaments and I haven’t done that in a while.”

PRESSING CONCERN

Regaining consistency is a much more pressing concern for  Woods who missed the cut last week after a surprisingly inept  performance at Quail Hollow where he shot 74 and 79.

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