PGA Tour

Phil begins comeback in California desert

Phil Mickelson (Getty)
Phil Mickelson (Getty)

Los Angeles - Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson said Wednesday that he will make his comeback from two sports hernia operations on Thursday in the opening round of the PGA CareerBuilder Challenge.

Mickelson, a 46-year-old US left-hander, underwent surgery on October 19 and again December 12 but has been hitting balls since January 12 and played a practice round before teeing off Thursday at LaQuinta Country Club in the California desert.

"I feel good and I want to play," Mickelson said. "I don't know where my game is, but I figure the only way to find out is to play."

Mickelson, who shared third at the event last year, ends a 3 1/2-month layoff since he shared eighth in the Safeway Open last October. He has slid to 21st in the world rankings.

The three-time Masters champion, seeking his 43rd career PGA title and first victory since the 2013 British Open, tees off at 8:40 a.m. alongside compatriot Bill Haas, a two-time winner of the event.

Mickelson has also captured the title twice, in 2002 and 2004, each time in a playoff. The only player to win more was the late Arnold Palmer, who captured the title five times, including the 1960 inaugural edition.

The Challege uses three courses in the first three rounds - LaQuinta and PGA West's Nicklaus and Stadium layouts.

World number eight Patrick Reed, who helped the US to victory over Europe in last September's Ryder Cup, is the highest-ranked player in the field.

Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas, the 2011 champion, is the only non-US player to win the Challenge since Canada's Mike Weir in 2003.

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