Phil Mickelson is starting the year in a sprint.
His start at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week will be the first of six consecutive weeks of play, according to the schedule he posted on his website. The schedule shows him playing seven of the next eight weeks, 10 of the next 12 through the Masters.
After Abu Dhabi, Mickelson is scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open, Waste Management Phoenix, AT&T Pebble Beach, Northern Trust, WGC-Accenture Match Play, WGC-Cadillac Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Shell Houston Open and Masters.
It’s a remarkably busy schedule and says a lot about how Mickelson is dealing with psoriatic arthritis. He's playing eight PGA Tour events before the Masters, the most he's played before going to Augusta since 2002.
“I started practicing a little bit earlier than normal because I'm antsy and excited to start the year,” Mickelson said before teeing it up at the Abu Dhabi Championship. “As far as the arthritis, that's something that will never go away but I was fortunate. I was fortunate because I got on it right away. When I started to feel symptoms, I went to a rheumatologist and had a quick diagnosis, and that's why I've responded so well to treatment and have been able to perform every activity that I was able to do before. So the key for me was getting on it right away before there was any permanent damage to any joints or whatnot.”
Mickelson, however, said he’s not 100 percent.
“I can't really say it like that, but right now I feel like I'm not being inhibited in my ability to practice, to work out or perform,” he said. “My goal this year is to have the year I expected 2010 to be. With the exception of the Masters, it wasn't the year I had hoped for. And so I've been working hard in the off season to make 2011 the year I believe I can have and the one I had hoped for last year.”