The American repeatedly winced at the top of his backswing as he
carded a three-under-par 69 on the North Course at Torrey Pines and
said his ultimate decision on whether to pull out would depend on
how he responded to treatment.
"I'll work on it tonight and tomorrow and we'll see how it goes,"
left-hander Mickelson, a three-times winner of the PGA Tour event,
told reporters after mixing four birdies with a lone bogey to end
the round five strokes off the pace.
"It's the start of the season so I don't want to do anything stupid
here. I don't think it's anything serious, I just couldn't go after
it today. If I can get it to feel better for tomorrow, I can go and
maybe shoot a good round.
"Hopefully it will work out. If not, it's not the end of the world
and I'll take a few days off and rest it up, but either way we'll
see how it goes."
Asked whether he had considered pulling out of the event on
Thursday, Mickelson replied: "Never thought about not starting, but
around the turn I thought about maybe taking this week off and
seeing if I could get it a little bit better.
"I've never had any back problems. It's more of a muscular thing.
It's just locking up when I try to start on the downswing. I don't
know. I'll get some treatment and see if it will go away. It might
take a few days' rest. We'll see."
[to top of second column]
Mickelson, who tied for second at the European Tour's Abu Dhabi
Championship on Sunday in his first tournament of the year, was
thankful to play his opening round at Torrey Pines on the easier
North Course, one of two layouts hosting the event.
"I was fortunate I was on the North course so that I could
manage around and kind of half-swing it around it and get up and
down and make some pars," the 43-year-old added.
"But it wasn't the best day for me. I'll have to get it better
for tomorrow because (on) the South Course you can't get away
with that kind of effort."
The brutal South Course played almost four strokes harder than
the North in Thursday's opening round and Mickelson is well
aware of the challenge facing him if he tees off in Friday's
"I'm hopeful I can play, but I don't want to do anything stupid
here the first week of the year, or second week for me of the
year," he said.
"I want to make sure that I'm healthy and I that don't get into
bad swing habits just because I've having a bit of tightening.
"(Today) I had to kind of ease into everything so that it
wouldn't lock up. I could do that on the North, I can't do that
on the South."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles;
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