Camp Phil

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SAN DIEGO ' Major League Baseball has spring training, the NFL has all manner of combines and camps, but golf, at least the variety played by the independent contractors on the PGA Tour, inches into Turn 1 at its own languid, unhurried pace. The Tour docket may read Week 5, but the trailing end of the circuits two-punch combination, Phil Mickelson, has punched a clock for just 36 holes this young season.
 
And while Leftys Scottsdale starter turned out to be a non-starter after rounds of 76-73, the first time hes missed the cut in a season debut as a pro, there was little doubt Mickelson had logged the required roadwork heading into his 17th season on Tour. At least it was clear to those who were doing the work with him.
 
In 2003, Sean Cochran left his job as a physical trainer for the San Diego Padres to work on Tour, specifically with Mickelson, so hes well aware of the need for a competitive clock, even in a sport that lurches into mid-season at a haphazard tempo.
 
You have to give athletes a chance to rest and unwind, Cochran said. For a golfer, you need to start getting ready about six weeks before your first event.
 
As is their normal MO, Mickelson and Cochran began preparing for 2009 in December, but this edition of Camp Phil was unlike earlier versions.
 
We did a lot of leg stuff to create a better base and foundation and so forth to accommodate some changes that Butch (Harmon) and I made, Mickelson said.
 
According to Cochran, the swing changes that Mickelson began in 2007 require a stronger base and core so he incorporate more dead lifts and squats into his most famous pupils regimen.
 
I know what Phil is working on in his swing, said Cochran moments after finishing a martial arts workout at Mickelsons Southern California home late Tuesday. His swing is shorter and to get the same power he has to recruit more speed from other areas which requires a lot of lower body strength.
 
Mickelson and Cochran also fine-tuned their season-long plan, with a focus on the major championships. The two have scheduled four, six-week cycles to coincide with the four Grand Slam events. Each week the volume of work Mickelson does changes, gradually building to Augusta National and beyond. At Torrey Pines that means working out five or six days using a combination of lower body and core training and anabolic exercises like slide boards.
 
Hes in better shape than he appears to be and I think most people dont realize that, Cochran said. My plan is for him to peak at Augusta, at the Open, at the PGA. Weve got it all mapped out.
 
Blanked in the majors for the second consecutive season, Mickelson seems to have added an extra layer to his pre-season preparation. He added a new driver to his bag this week, a version of his Callaway FT-9 that he said was approved by the U.S. Golf Association this week, and hes reworked his schedule to best prepare for the major season.
 
As for that Scottsdale misstep, Mickelson was dismissive of his opening performance: Im just going to brush it off, Mickelson said. I had a good extra, unfortunately, couple of days of practice to work on my game here.
 
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