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All eyes on Lefty

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SAN DIEGO – While most speculation this week at Torrey Pines is fixated on Tiger Woods’ 2011 debut, the bigger and more pressing question may surround Phil Mickelson.

Lefty began his year last week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship where he never broke 70 and tied for 37th. It’s similar to the way he finished 2010 following his emotional Masters victory.

On Wednesday Mickelson said he began preparing for 2011 a week earlier than normal (Dec. 28) and his trainer Sean Cochran said he’s back to his normal workout routine following last year’s bout with psoriatic arthritis.

“I didn't finish the year last year the way I wanted to, and I wanted to try to make 2011 the year that I thought 2010 was going to be,” Mickelson said. “I’m back to where I expect to be performance-wise and so there’s no point really dwelling on it.”

What is known is Mickelson’s hectic schedule. He plans to play the next four weeks but is undecided whether he will play the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which he skipped last year for a family vacation.

“I want to play the Match Play. I love Tucson and I love that tournament, and I very well may, but it will just be dependent on some other issues,” he said.

Mickelson also delivered some of the week’s best one-liners, particularly when asked about what he expects from Tiger Woods this year: “I expect that he’ll be the Tiger that we’ve known for over a decade, unfortunately.”

And the current rash of disqualifications on the PGA Tour and in Europe: “I told Padraig (Harrington) last week when I saw him in the locker room after the incident, I told him how sorry I was that had happened and that how I was even more sorry it was me who called it in. Until I learned it was emailed in, and then it kind of threw my game plan.”