Phil Mickelson will begin his year a week earlier than anticipated.
After undergoing two hernia surgeries this offseason, Mickelson confirmed Wednesday that he will make his 2017 debut at this week’s CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, Calif.
"I feel good and I want to play," Mickelson said in a media release. "I don't know where my game is, but I figure the only way to find out is to play."
Mickelson, who is coming off a resurgent 2016 season with six top-5 finishes, had the initial surgery Oct. 19 to remove a walnut-sized hernia behind his belly button. Despite saying afterward that he was “all fixed up,” he needed another procedure in December, putting his early-season schedule in doubt.
According to Mickelson's agent, the five-time major champ has been hitting balls since Jan. 12.
There was extra incentive for Mickelson to play this week, as this is the first year that he’s serving as the tournament ambassador of the old Bob Hope Classic, replacing former President Bill Clinton.
Barring a setback, Mickelson will also play next week’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
To gear up for the CareerBuilder – which features a three-course rotation and 54-hole cut – Mickelson played his first 18-hole round of the year Saturday. On Tuesday, he played nearby at the Madison Club with fellow pros to try and get “game ready,” according to Golf Channel reporter George Savaricas.
Mickelson, who tied for third at this event last year, is expected to address the media Wednesday.
Paired with Bill Haas, he will start his first round at 11:40 a.m. ET Thursday at La Quinta.