Mickelson, 39, cut into Woods’s lead by winning the Masters Tournament last month and finishing second at the U.S. PGA Tour’s Quail Hollow Championship last week.
“The whole idea to be No. 1 and continue being No. 1 is you have to win golf tournaments,” Woods said today during a news conference at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. “I haven’t done that in awhile.”
Woods is the 7-1 favorite for the May 6-9 tournament, according to the Las Vegas Hilton’s Race and Sports Book. Mickelson is the second choice with 8-1 odds, meaning a winning $10 bet would pay $80 along with the initial wager.
“My game is really close,” Mickelson said after finishing four shots behind winner Rory McIlroy at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Some adjustments here or there, and hopefully I should be able to get in contention again on Sunday.”
Mickelson won the Players Championship in 2007, the first year the tournament was scheduled after the Masters. It was one of his three top-10 finishes in 16 appearances at the event. Since winning the 2001 Players Championship, Woods has had one top-10 finish in seven starts at TPC Sawgrass.
Woods spent almost five months away from golf after admitting to marital infidelity that led to the unraveling of his personal life and status as one of the world’s most popular athletes. Since returning to the sport last month, he tied for fourth at the Masters and failed to qualify for weekend play at the Quail Hollow Championship, his first missed cut in a regular PGA Tour event since 2005.
Woods, 34, has been golf’s No. 1-ranked player for a record 558 weeks in his career. His last tournament victory came at the Australian Masters in November and he hasn’t had a PGA Tour win in almost eight months.
Greg Norman topped the rankings for 331 weeks, while Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Fred Couples, Nick Price, Tom Lehman, Ernie Els, David Duval and Vijay Singh have also held the No. 1 spot in the 24-year history of the world rankings.