Mickelson tries to spread news about arthritis


MARANA, Arizona (AP)—Phil Mickelson played a practice round at Pebble Beach onthe Saturday before the U.S. Open and was walking back to his car when he feltpain in his ankle, hip and even his finger. It was uncomfortable, but no greatcause for alarm.

“I thought it might just be wear and tear of the joints over the years,”he said.

The scare came a week after the U.S. Open during a family holiday in Hawaiiwhen the pain returned.

“I went and laid down on the couch, and it hurt so bad to move,” Mickelsonsaid. “Thereafter, I went to try to play golf and the pain had gone to myshoulder. I couldn’t take the club back halfway. And I was concerned about theimpact on my golf career.”

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Mickelson was lucky to detect it early.

He immediately saw a rheumatologist in San Diego, then went to the MayoClinic for a second opinion. Both agreed that he had psoriatic arthritis, anautoimmune disease that causes pain, stiffness and swelling around the joints.

Mickelson was able to get on a treatment plan, and he felt good enough toresume his full workouts by November.

But it left a lasting impression, and Mickelson wants to do his part to helpeducate others about the disease.

Mickelson has created a partnership with Amgen biotech company and Pfizer,Inc. and will launch a public awareness campaign on Wednesday called “On Coursewith Phil.” The idea is for people with psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoidarthritis or plaque psoriasis to have it diagnosed early and get on a treatmentprogram that’s best for them.

The three-time Masters champion has not signed any endorsement deal, and hesaid it will not be visible on his bag or other attire. There were will beadvertising, along with a website (oncoursewithphil.com) in which people canread his story and get information on the disease, from its symptoms to findingthe right treatment.

Mickelson said he lost about 20 percent of his strength, along with someswing speed. He said most of the speed has returned, and he hoped to have therest of it back during the road to the Masters.

It cost him part of last summer, no doubt. He was never in contention at theBritish Open, and made his move too late to seriously contend at the U.S. PGAChampionship, where he first revealed he had psoriatic arthritis. He had achance in the second half of the season to go to No. 1 in the world, but he hadonly one top-10 finish.

Even so, he feels fortunate it wasn’t worse.

“I’m in a good place now,” he said. “I’m able to practice and work outhard. As I’ve said, my goal is to make this year the kind of year I wanted lastyear to be. I also want to help other people who have situations similar tomine, because it’s very manageable.”