When Mickelson arrives for his 7:33 a.m. (10:33 a.m. in Philadelphia) tee time to join Woods, Watson, and thousands and thousands of their closest friends in the gallery, he knows he will be ready.
"It's fabulous," said Mickelson, who will turn 42 on Saturday. "First of all, I get excited to play with Tiger. I love it. I think we all do. He gets the best out of me. I think when it's time to tee off Thursday, I'll be ready to play.
"Second is, the one player I'm most concerned about, if I play my best golf, that may have a chance to beat me is Tiger. The fact that we are on the same wavelength, I always am in favor of. Sometimes we'll get a huge advantage in tee times based on weather conditions or whatnot. But if we're in the same wavelength, neither of us will have a distinct advantage."
Mickelson and Woods have been paired in the Open for the first two rounds once before, at Torrey Pines in 2008, when Woods won and later revealed he had a torn ligament in his left knee. In most tournaments, one usually tees off in the morning wave and the other in the afternoon on the first two days.
Definitely, the rolling swarms of spectators, officials, and media taking to the hilly Olympic layout will be treated to watching the three players and their vast array of shots. But don't expect any of them to break out the long ball at Olympic, a tree-lined course with varying heights of rough.
Mickelson said he would hit the driver on "very few" holes. He must be extra careful since he has hit only 55.6 percent of fairways this year, ranking him 140th on the PGA Tour.
Avoiding a bad start will be vital for Mickelson, still seeking his first U.S. Open championship after five runner-up finishes from 1999 to 2009.
He joked that "if you look at my game from 20,000 feet, you'd say, 'Well, that's probably not the best setup for the way he likes to play.'
"And yet five times I've had opportunities," he continued. "I've come close. Could have, should have won a few of those. It gives me the belief that I can compete and be in contention on Sunday in this tournament."
Mickelson said the one disappointment that stayed with him came in 2006 at Winged Foot. Holding a 1-stroke lead on the 18th tee, he hit his drive off a tent, struck a tree with his second shot, and wound up with a double bogey that left him 1 shot out of a playoff.
"The shot that lingers is not the drive off 18 as much as the 3-iron cutting around that tree," he said. "If I had not hit the tree, if I had made sure I got it around the tree, I would have been up by the green with an opportunity to salvage par with my short game, which was the best it's ever been in my career that week."
Woods, coming off a win in the Memorial, is the favorite this week to win his first major since that 2008 Open. But the last 12 times he has played in the same group with Mickelson, Mickelson has posted the better score eight times, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
Still, Mickelson, who is ranked 13th in the world compared with fourth for Woods and fifth for Watson, doesn't see himself as a favorite.
But it's the Open, and it's unpredictable.
"I've developed a good game plan as to how I want to play the golf course," he said. "I feel I should be able to play to that game plan and post a number that I feel will be competitive. I don't know if it will win. You just don't know what other guys are going to shoot. But I found a way for me to play it the most effective way."
Contact Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or email@example.com or follow on Twitter @joejulesinq. Read his blog, "Golf Inq," at www.philly.com/sports/golfinq