Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson once took their rivalry to an intense game of ping pong

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  • Jack Nicklaus recalled in an interview a time he saw Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson play an intense game of ping pong.
  • Woods and Mickelson weren’t friendly with each other earlier in their careers, but the two have become close enough to enjoy a practice round together.

As two of the best golfers of their generation, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have naturally always had a bit of a competitive rivalry, even off the golf course, as it turns out.

In an interview with broadcaster Jimmy Roberts, golf legend Jack Nicklaus recalled watching Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson play ping pong at the President’s Cup.

“We’re riding out on the bus, and Phil and Tiger are sitting next to each other. I said ‘that’s curious’ because I hadn’t seen ’em much the last year.

“They talked all the way out, they got to their cabin, there was a ping pong table in the cabin, and Phil says, ‘Hey Tiger, how about a game of ping pong.’

“‘Sure, let’s play.’

“So Tiger plays, and Tiger wins the first game. They play another one. Tiger wins the second game. Phil says, ‘I got this buffet behind me.’ He says, ‘Let’s switch ends. See if that’s alright.’

“They switch ends, Phil wins. Phil says, ‘OK come on Tiger, let’s play one more.’

“Tiger says, ‘Phil, two to one.’ And he never played him again the rest of the week,” Nicklaus said with a laugh.

Woods and Tiger haven’t always gotten along, as Roberts noted in the interview, but these days the relationship between the two is much more friendly. The pair played a practice round together recently, and Woods even got some good jokes in about Mickelson’s button-down shirt.

Nicklaus, for his part, says he enjoyed playing practice rounds with fellow golf luminaries Arnold Palmer and Gary Player – with plenty of good-natured ribbing afterwards, of course.

“We just couldn’t wait to give the other guy the needle,” he said.

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