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Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Phil Mickelson ready for '14 debut

By Bob Harig
ESPN.com

Phil Mickelson is excited about a new club in his bag as he is ready to make his 2014 debut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Mickelson, who won the Open Championship last year at Muirfield and again expressed his desire to complete the career Grand Slam by winning the U.S. Open this summer at Pinehurst, told reporters at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Tuesday that a new Callaway driver he's been testing could make 2014 a big year.

"As I look back on 2013, I played some of my best golf and had some huge breakthroughs, but I did most of it without a driver,'' Mickelson said. "This year I have the best driver [Big Bertha Alpha] I've ever hit that lowers my spin rate just like my 3-wood. I drive it longer and straighter with my driver than I did with my 3-wood.

"It's a whole different weapon in my arsenal now, and if I drive the ball well -- like I have been in practice and in the offseason -- heading into this 2014 season, it could be the best year of my career for that simple reason.''

That 3-wood was a big part of his victory at the Open, where he hit the club twice at the par-5 17th hole during the final round to set up a 2-putt birdie that effectively clinched the victory.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson, who said he played most of 2013 without a driver, will be swinging a Callaway Big Bertha Alpha heading into the 2014 season.

Mickelson said he has been experimenting with more loft on the new driver.

The 43-year-old plans to make his 2014 PGA Tour debut at next week's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. He then will defend his title at the Waste Management Phoenix Open before heading to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

He is likely to bypass the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, where he has played in recent years. Mickelson also said he won't play the WGC-Accenture Match Play -- Adam Scott is also skipping the World Golf Championship event -- because his kids will be on spring break.

He is considering adding the Honda Classic, followed by the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Mickelson, the highest-ranked player in the Abu Dhabi field at No. 5 in the world, will be grouped with No. 7 Rory McIlroy and defending champion Jamie Donaldson of Wales in the first two rounds.

The tournament is the first of three consecutive Middle East events on the European Tour.