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TIGER & PHIL: Whatever warm and fuzzy feelings existed between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson might not be around when Woods returns to the PGA Tour.
 
In an interview with Golf Magazine, Mickelson said he and Woods get along better than people believe and they don't have any issues.
 
'Well, maybe one,' Mickelson said. 'He hates that I can fly it past him now. He has a faster swing speed than I do, but he has inferior equipment. Tiger is the only player who is good enough to overcome the equipment he's stuck with.'
 
Mickelson is hitting the ball longer than ever. Two weeks ago at the Phoenix Open, he drove to the fringe of a 400-yard hole.
 
Still, it's a bold comment considering Woods has won 34 times, including eight majors, since he turned pro, compared with 12 victories and no majors for Mickelson in the same period.
 
Even more peculiar is that Mickelson gave the interview to Golf Magazine -- he has a deal with rival Golf Digest as a playing editor.
 
REGAL RETURN?: Arnold Palmer began the streak playing against Ben Hogan. He could end it next month against Tiger Woods.
 
The King wasn't planning to return to the PGA Tour until he was reminded of a golden anniversary: This would be his 50th consecutive year playing at least one tour event.
 
'I may play for that reason, to complete the circle,' Palmer said.
 
Palmer said he will play a Champions Tour event in two weeks at Tampa, Fla., then decide whether he wants to return at Bay Hill.
 
'My people are pushing hard for me to play, buy my golf has been pretty poor,' he said. 'The main thing is I can't hit it far enough any more, and that's kind of holding me back.'
 
Palmer, 73, said he is averaging about 260 yards off the tee.
 
'It's not how far I'm hitting it,' he said. 'It's how far the guys I'm playing with are hitting it. It's demoralizing.'
 
Palmer's streak began as an amateur in the 1953 U.S. Open, which Hogan won at Oakmont. Woods is the three-time defending champion at Bay Hill.
 
THE GREAT PRANKSTER: Wayne Gretzky is playing with fellow Canadian Mike Weir in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am this week, and the Great One might need reminding that they're on the same team.
 
In other words, no pranks like the one he pulled two years ago on Weir.
 
Gretzky, Brett Hull and Joe Sakic played their best ball against Weir at an annual charity event two years in Nova Scotia. Weir was tired from his flight, and went to bed early the night before the tournament.
 
'I called the front desk and told them I was Mike Weir's doctor,' Gretzky said. 'I said Mike had hit his head and suffered a concussion, and that we're worried about him falling into a deep sleep. I asked if they could they ring his room every hour.'
 
He said Weir showed up the next morning groggy and irritated.
 
Gretzky & Co. cruised to a six-stroke victory.
 
QUIET WEEK: Phil Mickelson caused quite a stir last week when he asked out of the celebrity rotation at the Bob Hope Classic.
 
Tee times were changed the day before the tournament, and Joey Sindelar and Mickelson swapped their spots. Henry Hughes, chief of operations for the PGA Tour, said there is no written policy that tee times cannot be changed once posted.
 
'Typically, they're not changed except for withdraws,' he said, adding there were extenuating circumstances with Mickelson.
 
It's nothing new for players to ask out of the celebrity rotation. Distractions are high when playing four days with the likes of Joe Pesci and Ken Griffey Jr.
 
DIVOTS: Media training isn't just for the players. A couple of PGA Tour officials are going out to Pebble Beach this week to work with tour wives, who are getting more media exposure through their charitable works. ... Newport Country Club in Rhode Island, one of the five founding clubs of the U.S. Golf Association, has been chosen to host the 2006 U.S. Women's Open. ... Nick Faldo has reason to celebrate. Along with moving up to No. 53 in the world ranking and virtually assuring a spot in the Match Play Championship, he and wife Valerie are expecting their first child in July.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK: Two of Mike Weir's victories have come at tournaments where the defending champion was the more famous lefty, Phil Mickelson.
 
FINAL WORD: 'I'm playing Doral even if my arm falls off. I'm getting bored.' -- Curtis Strange, who is recovering from surgery on his left elbow.