The West Coast swing’s loss is the Honda Classic’s gain. Phil Mickelson is skipping the last two PGA Tour events out west – the WGC Accenture Match Play and Northern Trust Open – because of his kids’ spring breaks. He will play the Feb. 27-March 2 Honda tournament in Florida for the first time since 2002.
Mickelson has missed three of the past four Match Play events, primarily for family vacations during spring break, but has played every Northern Trust at Riviera since 2006.
The five-time major winner, ranked fourth in the world, isn’t the first player to arrange a schedule around his family. In this case, after playing this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he will take a couple of weeks off because his kids are at different schools and their spring breaks cover two weeks.
To offset that, he’s adding Honda and says, “I’m excited to get back there and play.”
Hence, a strong Honda Classic field at PGA National is getting stronger. He will join a field that is expected to include the top-10 likes of Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson.
Mickelson goes to Pebble Beach coming off a tie for 42nd at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he arrived with back issues but left optimistic.
“My game is not far off, even though the score says that it is,” Mickelson said after finishing at Phoenix. “It was just a fraction off. My irons were what I struggled with this week, but I drove the ball well, short game wasn’t bad, putting wasn’t bad. I have to go back to work on my iron play.”
As for his back, he said it feels “great.” He withdrew because of the back problem the week before at the Farmers Insurance Open in his hometown of San Diego.
“I couldn’t really identify it after last week how my game stood, because I wasn’t feeling like I could swing it the way I wanted to, but this week I felt like I could,” he said.