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Mickelson to play Bay Hill

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DORAL, Fla. – On Thursday at Doral Phil Mickelson trotted out an old and odd experiment – one bag, two drivers. By the end of a wind-whipped day, neither seemed to have worked that well.

Still, for a guy cold from three weeks of non-Tour activity, Mickelson’s opening-round 71 was no reason for concern, particularly for a guy who was a little more than 12 hours off a plane from Houston and understandably preoccupied with his wife’s health.

Mickelson arrived in south Florida late Wednesday from Houston, where his wife, Amy, was undergoing continued – and scheduled, he said – treatment for breast cancer. “She’s doing OK,” he said.

So is Mickelson, despite hitting just three of 14 fairways on a day that made south Florida feel more like Southport, England. It was a solid effort despite a litany of distractions.

But then golf seems preoccupied these days with the “return,” and health concerns and outdated grooves. All of which makes Mickelson’s 26-putt effort a reason to be optimistic.

“I’m ready to play,” said Mickelson, who removed a 57-degree wedge to add an older driver (Callaway FT-5) that flies lower with an eye toward Pebble Beach and the U.S. Open. “I know that although I didn’t have the greatest start, I hit the ball very well on the West Coast.”

Moments later Mickelson was signing autographs but not before offering a cure for the game’s collective ADD, telling reporters he plans to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

It is the same event that Tiger Woods is rumored to be considering for his comeback to Tour life, and all things considered, it’s a reason to start paying attention.