Mickelson Wraps Up Awful 2003

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LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Phil Mickelson usually finds himself overshadowed by Tiger Woods. This weekend, Annika Sorenstam is grabbing all the attention, and that seems fine with Mickelson.
 
A disappointing season for Mickelson is wrapping up at the Skins Game, the $1 million, made-for-TV event where the competition is Sorenstam, defending champion Mark O'Meara and Fred Couples.
 
'It was a tough year. I didn't really play to the level I expected to,' Mickelson said Friday. 'I'll take six of seven weeks off. That will give me an opportunity to evaluate where I need to go with my game, what areas I struggle with. Driving is pretty obvious, but there are some areas, too.'
 
Mickelson wound up 37th on the PGA earnings list and his best finish was third at the Masters. He wants to 'get it turned around for next year.'
 
'I'm really excited about next year,' he said. 'I'm looking forward to the Ryder Cup in Oakland Hills. I want to have a great year to get on the team, and play well.'

He didn't play particularly well at the Skins Game last year, but knocked in a 2-foot birdie putt to win the $200,000 'Super Skin' on the 18th hole. Overall, he won $300,000 in the event to finish second to O'Meara, who won eight skins and $405,000.
 
Woods was last in the four-man field, and opted out of this year's event. Skins Game officials decided, then, to invite Sorenstam.
 
She's the first woman to compete in the 21-year history of the Skins Game, but it's a far cry from the media spectacle in May at The Colonial, where she was the first woman in a PGA event in 58 years.
 
'This is a little bit more relaxed atmosphere, obviously,' Sorenstam said Friday. 'I mean, The Colonial took me by surprise. I didn't really expect all that attention. But I learned so much that week. Here, I just want to play my best.'
 
All three of her male opponents were effusive in their praise of Sorenstam, none more so than Mickelson.
 
'I'd like to see her play five, six, seven events on the men's tour, and really give it a shot, rather than just one tournament,' he said. 'In one tournament, it's kind of hard to know where you stack up.'
 
No thanks, Sorenstam said.
 
'Maybe if I was here to compare with them, I would need to play many tournaments, but that's not what I'm trying to do,' she said. 'These guys are so much better. I want to play on my tour. I want to win tournaments. I want to be in contention on Sunday and break records, and I know I have a tour to do that.'
 
After four years at the Landmark Golf Club, the Skins Game was moved this year to the new Trilogy Golf Club, which opened in February. The wide-open, par-72, 7,113-yard layout should provide plenty of opportunities for birdies and more than a few eagles, especially for Mickelson and his power game off the tee.
 
'If I can drive it somewhat in play, I'm going to have a pretty good chance of making birdies, because there's a lot of short holes,' Mickelson said. 'There's a lot of 50-, 60-yard L-wedge shots after some good drives. That's going to be a key club for me.'
 
Couples' eyes grew wide at that remark.
 
'We are in trouble if he's only going to have 50 yards to half these holes,' Couples said. 'Wow!'
 
Holes one through six are worth $25,000 each, seven through 12 $50,000 apiece, 13 through 17 $70,000 each, with the 18th a 'Super Skin' worth $200,000. If no one wins a skin on a hole, the money is added to the following hole. Each golfer will give 20 percent of his or her earnings to charity.
 
The first nine holes will be played Saturday, and the final nine Sunday.
 
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