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How will Phil Mickelson fare in 2011

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Despite winning a major last season, questions about the direction of Phil Mickelson's game continue. Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell weigh in with their opinions on Lefty for the upcoming year.

By REX HOGGARD

Phil Mickelson will win on the PGA Tour in 2011, but probably not major No. 5 and probably not early. To speculate otherwise would be to ignore the enormous amount of talent the 40-year-old still enjoys as well as a blatantly obvious body of work.

He’s failed to hoist at least one Tour trophy just twice since his first full season in 1993 and he’d posted multiple-win seasons for six consecutive calendars before going into his post-Masters slide in 2010.

And remember, before that Masters moment last spring he had failed to post a top-10 finish or anything even resembling winning form. The point? Lefty’s game defies trends.

What appears unworkable one week – he tied for 35th the week before Augusta National last year – can turn unbeatable the next.

He’s also driven, working tirelessly with swing coach Butch Harmon and putting guru Dave Stockton, Sr. this off season. His desire has never been questioned. The same can’t be said of his health.

Revelations late last year he’d been diagnosed with a rare form of arthritis surprised many and it at least partially explains his slide.

But Lefty’s trainer, Sean Cochran, said Mickelson is back on his normal training schedule, which means there’s no reason his game won’t follow. And that means more W’s in 2011.

By RANDALL MELL

We don’t really have a good feel for what lies ahead for Phil Mickelson because there are so many unknown and potentially debilitating factors that may still be challenging the four-time major championship winner.

With his Masters’ title last spring, Mickelson can feel good about 2010. A major championship overshadows his many uninspired performances last year. There was obviously something slightly off in Mickelson’s game.

He shocked us late last summer divulging that he has psoriatic arthritis and that he could barely walk preparing for the U.S. Open because of intense joint pain. He assured us that the medication (Enbral) he’s taking is like a wonder drug, and he’s feeling normal. But doctors tell us psoriatic arthritis is a lifelong condition and could get progressively worse.

We know Mickelson’s wife (Amy) and mother (Mary) have battled cancer. We’ve seen Amy smiling and looking strong this past season, but we don’t really know how those battles have weighed on Mickelson’s heart and mind.

I expect Mickelson to rebound strong, so strong he wins another Masters. I expect a West Coast title and maybe one more along the year’s way. I expect he’s highly motivated and reinvigorated, but I can’t see what’s flaring in his joints and heart and that makes predicting what is ahead for Mickelson the most difficult prognostication this year.