Missing from the field is Masters champion Bubba Watson, who has pulled out of the last two tournaments so he can bond with the baby boy he and his wife adopted in late March; Dustin Johnson, still recovering from a back injury; and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.
Mickelson, a past champion at Sawgrass, is fresh off his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Woods is coming off only the eighth missed cut of his career at Quail Hollow. Even in the best of times, Woods struggled on this golf course. He won in 2001, was the runner-up in 2000, but never seriously contended any of the other 12 times at The Players Championship.
"I've done really well or I haven't," Woods said. "Either I've been right there in contention with a chance or I haven't."
He was speaking of The Players Championship, though he just as easily could have been talking about his season. His win at Bay Hill in March at least got him back into the top 10 in the world, though even if he were to win his next two tournaments, he could not get to No. 1.