Commentary

Despite stomach woes, Lefty shines

Updated: March 15, 2009, 10:34 PM ET
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

7:15 p.m. ET: There's one guy in golf who has made a career out of post-victory comments like these: "I didn't have my A-game, but I just gutted it out today."

That player would be none other than Tiger Woods, who has prevailed in tournaments with his B-game, his C-game and even his D-game on rare occasions. It's the mark of an elite player, really. Think about it: Anyone on the PGA Tour can be victorious when playing their absolute best golf over the course of 72 holes, but very few can accomplish this when they're not on top of their games.

In his two wins already this season, Phil Mickelson has proven once again that he is indeed one of these players.

At last month's Northern Trust Open, Lefty shot an opening-round 63 and a third-round 62, but coupled those with a pair of even-par scores, including Sunday's final round, when he was so off that he played a 14-hole stretch in 5-over-par. And yet, he still held on for a 1-stroke victory.

It was a similar story at the WGC-CA Championship, where Mickelson got off to a blistering start of 65-66, only to limp in with a pair of 3-under 69 scores on the weekend to win by 1 shot.

Instead of criticizing him for failing to put the pedal to the metal and clinching this title earlier, though, we should celebrate him for still being able to win without his A-game.

And yes, it's clear he wasn't playing his best on the weekend. For the tournament, Phil finished T-38 in driving accuracy (29-for-56) and T-33 in greens in regulation (46-for-72). He saved himself by needing only 99 putts -- good for second in the field -- but still, those aren't exactly tourney-winning statistics.

Mickelson wasn't just gutting it out without his best performance; he was hurting in other ways, too. Dealing with a stomach bug throughout the week, he needed to visit an urgent care center Saturday night in order to receive two IV bags due to dehydration. Warning prior to the round that we should, "Beware the ailing golfer," Phil put on a display that was slightly reminiscent of Woods' victory at the 2003 Bay Hill Invitational, save for the 11-stroke differential and the on-course retching.

After making birdies on five of his first 10 holes, Mickelson played the final eight holes in 2-over, but concluded with six consecutive pars, including the final one on Doral's treacherous 18th hole.

This won't go down as the greatest win of Phil Mickelson's career ... or the most important ... or the most compelling. It should, however, be viewed as yet another sign of his status as an elite performer. Anytime a player can win when his game -- and his stomach -- isn't firing on all cylinders, it's quite an achievement.


6:59 p.m. ET: Watney on his close call: "It hurts right now, but all in all, it was a good week."


6:57 p.m. ET: Mickelson on being the new No. 2 player in the OWGR, within striking distance of Tiger's top spot: "That's great, but he hasn't played in a year. He's the greatest player of all-time."


6:54 p.m. ET: One more sign of how sick Mickelson is: Prior to an interview with NBC's Roger Maltbie, he wouldn't shake the announcer hand because he didn't want to spread anything.


6:52 p.m. ET: Talking to reporters right now, Bones confirmed that Phil really is ailing right now.

"He's not stiffing you guys by the way," the caddie said of his player, still in the scoring trailer. "He's lying down. He is sick. I was with him all last night. It wasn't pretty."

In fact, when Bones saw him at 8:30 last night, he believed it was 50-50 whether Phil would play today.

Beware the ailing golfer.


6:49 p.m. ET: As for Watney, he acquitted himself very well during the week -- and in today's final round. He just simply needed one birdie down the stretch and he just never got it in the last seven holes.

Very, very good young player, though; we'll be seeing a lot more of Nick Watney in the months and years to come.


6:47 p.m. ET: Considering the illness and the fact that he led wire-to-wire and that he didn't have his A-game on Sunday, that's a heck of a win for Mickelson.


6:45 p.m. ET: After a handshake between the two players and a quick conversation, Mickelson walks off the green waving to the crowd as Bones grabs the flagstick and takes it with him.


6:43 p.m. ET: Mickelson rolls it right at the hole ... and his hangs on the lip, too!

But that's good enough.

Mickelson taps in and he's a champion for the second time this season and 36th time in his PGA Tour career.


6:41 p.m. ET: Watney is first to putt ... great roll ... right at it ... it's going in ... and it hangs on the lip!

Wow.

Terrific effort from Watney, but it likely wasn't enough. Now all Mickelson needs is a two-putt from here.


6:37 p.m. ET: After discussing club selection with Bones for a minute, Mickelson pulls an iron (wedge? 9-iron?) and knocks it right over the hole into the back fringe.

His ball may be inside Watney's, but not by much.


6:36 p.m. ET: Watney is the first to play.

Nice shot to the back of the green, has about 25 feet for birdie from there.

6:31 p.m. ET: Shades of Winged Foot?

There's no corporate tents to the left of 18, but there is, well, a blue monster lurking.

No matter for Phil. Despite one fan's cry of, "Get in the water!" he powers his drive down the fairway.

So, too, does Watney.

Game on.


6:29 p.m. ET: One.

Watney avoids the Blog Jinx and his first three-putt of the week.

Two more pars. Unreal.

We go to 18 with Mickelson up by a single shot.


6:28 p.m. ET: Mickelson's putt hangs on the lip, but doesn't fall.

He's had a bunch of those today. He'll be the leader going to the final hole, but will it be by one or two?


6:27 p.m. ET: Watney blows his putt about 8 feet past.

Is now a bad time to mention that he has yet to three-putt this week?


6:24 p.m. ET: And here are your birdie opportunities ...

Mickelson is pin-high, about 12 feet to the right. Watney is pin-high, about 40 feet to the left.

Advantage: Mickelson.


6:21 p.m. ET: A couple of bombs at 17. Definitely a pair of birdie opportunities to this middle-center pin position.


6:16 p.m. ET: We couldn't really see a whole bunch of pars to finish off this tourney, right? With Phil Mickelson in the mix? On a course yielding so many red numbers?

Well, maybe it could happen.

Two more pars at 16 and Mickelson retains his one-shot lead.

But I mean, really, something's gotta happen ... doesn't it?


6:14 p.m. ET: As if Mickelson and Watney didn't have enough to worry about already, Jim Furyk just completed a back-nine 31 to finish at 16-under for the tourney.

It's a longshot, but he may not want to pack his clubs in the courtesy car just yet.


6:07 p.m. ET: Phil's ball is nestled in the right rough. Looks like flopper time. He gets it up there, but doesn't like the look he'll have for birdie.

Now Watney from the bunker ... can't get any spin on it and the ball releases well past the hole.

Pair of long birdie attempts coming up.


6:06 p.m. ET: Tee box is waaaayyyyy up on 16 today.

This has been a "go" hole for Phil all week, but even more so today.

He blasts a driver, but is yelling at it: "Sit down! Oh, c'mon, sit!"

Employing driver as well, Watney doesn't yell anything -- I don't think this kid ever yells -- but he's using some body language to will it in the direction of the middle of the green.


6:04 p.m. ET: After each missed the green at the par-3 15th to the left, Mickelson nearly chips in and Watney lags a putt from the back fringe.

And yes, that's two more pars.

Phil still leads by one as all of the excitement from earlier has dissipated.

But I guarantee it won't end like this. One of these guys makes a birdie or two to win -- or a bogey or two to lose.


5:59 p.m. ET: Body language on these players right now is ... intense.

Mickelson and Watney are each pretty locked in, not talking to each other or, really, their caddies for anything but discussing shots.


5:54 p.m. ET: I wouldn't say Mickelson and Watney are falling apart, but neither is exactly grabbing this thing by the throat, either.

Some very average golf being played the last three holes, as they each just posted fairly routine pars here on 14.

Neither -- and certainly not both -- will drop to current third-place man Jim Furyk, who is currently 15-under with two holes to play. But let's just say they should each be happy this isn't the Bob Hope Classic.

One more round and I could see a lot of players catching this twosome.


5:49 p.m. ET: Getting away from the Mickelson/Watney pairing for just a second ...

Tiger Woods is in the clubhouse with a second straight 68, finishing his week at 11-under and currently in a share of 11th place.

That's obviously not the result he envisioned entering this week, but he should be encouraged by his weekend play. He'll likely tee it up two weeks from now at Bay Hill in his final tune-up before the Masters.

Expect to learn a lot more about the state of his game at Arnie's place.


5:44 p.m. ET: Pair of pars on 13. How do you like that analysis?

After a week of blogging on the BlackBerry, the connection between my brain and my thumbs isn't really working. Maybe I just need some of Phil's Gatorade.


5:32 p.m. ET: Or maybe not.

Mickelson misses his par effort. So does Watney.

That's a pair of bogeys on the par-5. No blood. Mickelson remains up by one stroke.


5:29 p.m. ET: After Mickelson finds the green, Watney has a tough stance on the edge of the left greenside bunker ... and he leaves it in there.

His next one -- the fourth shot -- is tracking toward the hole and winds up a few feet away.

After all this, we could see a pair of pars. Ho-hum, huh?


5:26 p.m. ET: Yikes.

Going from bad to worse for Mickelson.

His third shot wound up left of the cart path, some 75 yards or so from the green, but he's actually got a decent look from here. This would certainly be a great up-and-down.


5:23 p.m. ET: With the door open for Watney, he over-draws his second shot into the par-5 -- some might call it a hook -- and as we walk down the fairway, it appears Watney's advantage might not be as large as it was just a minute ago.


5:19 p.m. ET: "Lefty" is right-handed in everything he does except golf.

And now, apparently, golf, too.

Mickelson turns around to hit one righty out of the thick stuff. He got some good club on it -- lefty club, of course -- but the ball struck a tall palm tree and came right back down in the right rough.

A lot of work still left to do from here.

Meanwhile, Watney is sitting pretty on the left side of the fairway.


5:17 p.m. ET: Trouble for Mickelson off the tee on 12. He pulled his drive way right and is currently taking a look for it.

Not the first time this has happened this week. He went OB over there a few days ago.


5:12 p.m. ET: For a guy who often looks like the antithesis of Mr. Excitement, Watney is a pretty exciting dude.

After going birdie-eagle on 9 and 10, Watney makes a mess of 11 -- much like he did earlier on 7 -- and posts a bogey. Steady Eddie Mickelson makes par and he is now up by one once again.


5:06 p.m. ET: Average shot by Mickelson to the left part of the 11th green, but it's better than that of Watney, who thinned one from a fairway bunker to the back greenside bunker.

This one is definitely taking on a match-play type of feel right now.


5:02 p.m. ET: In Round 1, Mickelson needed 20 putts. In Round 2, he needed 22. In Round 3, he needed 28.

That leads to this e-mail from Ed in Bismarck, N.D.:

How many putts does Phil Mickelson have through his holes played today for the tournament?

Through 10 holes, he's taken 16 total putts. That's more on yesterday's pace, obviously, than either of the first two days.


4:58 p.m. ET: This Mike Whitney kid can play.

Eagle for Watney -- that's right, Watney -- at No. 10 to pick up another stroke on Mickelson, who made birdie.

We're tied up at 20-under with eight holes to play.

So much for that disadvantage for Watney on the back nine.


4:52 p.m. ET: More Gatorade for Mickelson coming up No. 10 fairway.

And no, I haven't seen a bathroom break yet.

4:43 p.m. ET: As the players head to No. 10, it's clear that Mickelson has the advantage. Not just on the leaderboard, but on this half of the course.

From ESPN's research department:

Back 9 this week
• Phil, 11-under (13 birdies)
• Watney, 5-under (6 birdies)


4:41 p.m. ET: Uh-oh. Wheels are starting to come off for Nick Watney.

Bad bogey on 7, par on the par-5 eighth, and now here at 9 he's blown his tee shot way long and left ...

And he chips in from there!

Unreal birdie for Watney. Wheels back on.

Mickelson barely leaves his birdie attempt short and what appeared to be at least a one-shot swing in Phil's favor goes to Watney instead. He now trails by one at the turn.


4:32 p.m. ET: Birdie for Mickelson on No. 8, par for Watney.

Phil's lead is now two shots with 10 to play.


4:28 p.m. ET: More on Mickelson's "closer" reputation -- or lack thereof -- from "John Q. Statistic" in Parts Unknown:

Your numbers do bear out the theory that Mickelson is a "closer;" I would say remarkably so.

Look at it this way: I don't know what the PGA average is for the percentage of winners who led heading into the final round. I could do the math, but I'd be willing to wager that the number is in the 30 to 40 percent range if not lower. In golf, of course, even if someone has a lead heading into the final round, nothing is guaranteed; it is rare indeed that a player is able to essentially lock up a tournament via three rounds, so generally at least a few players will have a realistic chance to catch a leader on Sunday.

A person with a .500 winning percentage would win once every two rounds that he held or shared the final round lead, which statistically would be quite strong and well above what I suspect is the tour average.

Phil Mickelson's career winning percentage in these situations is .704, or potentially twice as often as the average Sunday leader. In tight situations (1-stroke or tied), his record is a nearly as sparkling .667. The man is a better than solid bet against the entire field if he holds a Sunday lead, regardless of its size.

If it wasn't for one Eldrick Woods, I'd be willing to wager that Mickelson's "closer" status would alreadybe something of legend. Just because Tiger is unconscious with a final round lead doesn't mean that the rest of humanity is. Without Tiger's presence on the list, I think Mickelson would rank at or near the top of the all-time list in these situations.

Sincerely,
John Q. Statistic

Couldn't have said it better myself. Everything Mickelson -- and every other player in this era -- does is compared with Tiger Woods, and usually it makes for an unfavorable comparison.

Just because Phil lost a U.S. Open and a few other big tourneys down the stretch doesn't mean he should be considered a poor finisher.


4:20 p.m. ET: E-mail from Shawn in Montgomery, Ala.:

With all the Gatorades being consumed, how many porta-potties are available to Phil?

Ummm ... the point of the Gatorades is that Phil is dehydrated, which basically negates the need for any porta-potties.

That said, if he does need one, there are plenty to be found out here.


4:18 p.m. ET: Even though he's been in or near the lead for the entire week, Mickelson has relied on a strong short game rather than solid iron play.

That trend has continued through seven holes today:

Lefty's short game

  Distance to hole Distance to hole after shot
1st hole 167 yards 33 feet
2nd hole 19 yards 10 feet, 10 inches
3rd hole 133 yards 30 yards (short)
4th hole 206 yards 26 yards (short)
5th hole 110 yards 9 feet, 9 inches
6th hole 145 yards 24 feet
7th hole 116 yards 38 feet (short)
* Source: ESPN Research


4:14 p.m. ET: Good lag by Phil and he makes par to reclaim sole possession of the lead at 18-under.


4:12 p.m. ET: Not a good seventh hole so far for Watney.

After driving into the left rough, he chunked one into the bunker and barely got his third shot out, punctuated by a violent club-slam into the sand.

His chip stopped within inches, but that'll be a bogey. Good opportunity for Mickelson to pick up at least a shot here; he's got about a 25-footer for birdie ...


4:05 p.m. ET: Gatorade watch: Orange out. Lemon-lime back in.

And he's added a banana, too.

So much for no solid foods in three days.


3:58 p.m. ET: Looking ahead here on the course, it appears there may actually be a larger gallery following Tiger Woods and Ernie Els than back here at No. 6 with the leaders Mickelson and Watney.


3:52 p.m. ET: Here's a prop bet for you: Which number will be higher -- Mickelson's total number of strokes under par or the amount of Gatorade bottles he downs during this round.

I've honestly lost track of how many Phil's consumed already, but after just polishing off a lemon-lime, he's already working on an orange one.


3:49 p.m. ET: Mickelson converts his birdie, but Watney's shorty is his worst stroke of the week. Awful pull to the left.

And we're tied once again at 18-under.


3:47 p.m. ET: A pair of great approach shots into the fifth green.

From the left fairway bunker, Mickelson knocked one to about 8 feet, then Watney countered with a little flip wedge to 5 feet.

Good chance to post birdie for each player.


3:38 p.m. ET: It's the return of Mr. Excitement.

After a birdie-birdie-par start, Mickelson makes bogey on the par-3 fourth hole, while Watney makes par to grab the solo lead.

By the way, if Mickelson does win today, it won't be considered a wire-to-wire victory by the PGA Tour. That's not because Watney grabbed the lead, but due to the fact that all wire-to-wire winners must be solo leaders at the end of each round, according to tour rules.


3:31 p.m. ET: Some stats on Mickelson, courtesy of the ESPN research department:

Should Phil Mickelson win, it would be his 36th career win, of which 27 of them have come in the first half of the season (before the U.S. Open).

Phil Mickelson has had the lead going into the final round 30 times in stroke-play, normal scoring events. Three of the events were rained out for the final round.

Of the other 27 times (29 if you count the International) Mickelson took the lead into the final round, he has won 19 times (21 if you count International) and not won 8 times, including three of the last seven leads he had entering the final round.

Digging deeper, he is only 6-5 when entering the final round tied for the lead.

Phil Mickelson final-round lead breakdown

Lead W-L
4+ Strokes 4-0
3 Strokes 1-1
2 Strokes 2-1
1 Stroke 6-1
Tied 6-5
Total 19-8
• Tied entering Sunday
• Does not include The International event (2-0), which features different scoring system

Even with all of that in mind, I still maintain that Mickelson is a closer. You just don't win 35 career PGA Tour events without being able to finish 'em out, despite a few memorable late-round collapses.

As if to only bolster my point, check out this e-mail from Matt in Parts Unknown:

PGA Tour winning percentage:
Phil Mickelson 9.0% (35 of 389)
Arnold Palmer 8.4% (62 of 734)

Even though that total number includes many events at the end of Arnie's career when he was no longer very competitive, it's still very impressive.


3:28 p.m. ET: E-mail from Ace in Virginia:

Do you see Phil and Nick talking to each other much?

Not yet, but they did at times yesterday and I wouldn't be surprised if they talk more later today, too.

After their third round pairing, Mickelson said Watney is "one of the nicest guys on tour" and Watney said they often talked about basketball and football while walking the fairways.


3:23 p.m. ET: Mickelson chipped in four times in his first 36 holes, but his short game hasn't been quite as good since then.

Doesn't matter.

Phil leaves his chip about 12 feet short, but makes the long par attempt. That saved what could have been a two-shot swing, as Watney hit a great approach and drained the putt.

We now have co-leaders once again at 18-under. With every hole, it appears that Mickelson and Watney are set on making this a two-man race for the duration.


3:16 p.m. ET: After hitting his drive into what may be the only patch of penalizing rough on this course, Phil chopped out and barely cleared the hazard fronting the green.

It's dry, but he'll have a lengthy chip to the hole.


3:10 p.m. ET: E-mail from Ryan in aptly-named Fairway, Kans.:

NBC just led off their coverage with a Tiger chip in. I watched it about five times. He's limping.

Gonna have to rely on you guys for the TW reports today. I'm hanging with the Mickelson-Watney duo until further notice.

And rightfully so, I think, as Mickelson just made a second straight birdie -- besting Watney's par -- to move to 18-under, one shot in front.

Beware the ailing golfer.


3:04 p.m. ET: After pummeling his second drive near a front left bunker, Phil pummels another bottle of Gatorade while walking down the fairway.

Red this time, in case you're wondering.


2:59 p.m. ET: Birdies for both Mickelson and Watney on No. 1 and they each move to 17-under.

Incidentally, that was the winning score of Geoff Ogilvy a year ago. Gonna take more than that today.


2:53 p.m. ET: The last time Mickelson owned the lead entering the final round here at Doral? That was 2005, when he shot 69 but lost by one stroke to Tiger Woods, who parlayed the victory into a return to No. 1 in the OWGR.

At that event, Mickelson very nearly chipped in for birdie on the final hole, but it lipped out. Had he made it, we would have seen the only Tiger-Phil playoff ever. Instead, it's still never happened.


2:49 p.m. ET: Very pregnant woman from behind the gallery ropes: "Phil! I'm going to name my baby after you!"

His reaction: "Wow."


2:46 p.m. ET: With his first tee shot of the day, Mickelson shows no signs of ailing, swinging hard and finding the fairway.

Watney likewise hits a good one and the final pairing of the day is off.

Remember: Par at this easy par-5 is akin to making bogey in relation to the field.


2:41 p.m. ET: Just 30 seconds after Whitney -- er, Watney -- made his way to the first tee, Mickelson just ambled up to raucous applause from the crowd.

I'm still not sure how many spectators out here know about last night's ordeal, though a few informed fans have yelled water-drinking related encouragement to him in the past few minutes.


2:39 p.m. ET: Talk about no respect.

As I'm walking from the practice green to get a good seat on the first tee box, one fan from behind the ropes noted that Phil was playing with "some guy named Mike Whitney" today.

Mike Whitney. Nick Watney. Eh, same thing, right?


2:37 p.m. ET: How much did Mickelson work on the range?

After joking that playing partner Nick Watney would hit only 11 balls in his warm up, one observer noted that Phil hit exactly 26 shots -- including a handful of short chips, as if from right off the green.


2:28 p.m. ET: After about 15-20 minutes on the range, Mickelson is heading back to the practice green.

He has already spoken with reporters, including NBC, and it appears the illness was due less to dehydration than a stomach bug. Phil intimated that he hasn't eaten anything solid in three days and said of last night, "I've had better nights."

Of course, he's not planning to let it stop him, either. As Mickelson warned toward the end of the interview: "Beware the ailing golfer."


2:25 p.m. ET: Screw it.

Using that newfound philosophy, Mickelson is currently hitting driver, swinging hard and working on hitting a super-high cut shot.


2:18 p.m. ET: Mickelson is now warming up on the driving range with Butch Harmon watching nearby.

And yes, he's drinking fluids. Bones just diluted a lemon-lime Gatorade, pouring out half of it and refilling it with water.


2:13 p.m. ET: E-mail from HJ in Parts Unknown:

How is it that a guy who has lived much of his life in Arizona and SoCal not understand the importance of keeping hydrated on the course? And if Phil isn't keeping up on fluids, where's Bones to gently remind him? Especially with so much at stake?

Again, this is all speculative. Did Mickelson not drink enough? Did he not take proper care of himself after the round? Was the hospital room visit necessary or precautionary?

All questions that can't be answered until Phil speaks -- and I'm guessing he's not talking until after the round.


2:04 p.m. ET: In yesterday's post-round interview session with the media, Mickelson joked about how Nick Watney barely took instructor Butch Harmon away from him for much time, considering he "hits about 11 shots" before teeing it up.

With Mickelson still on the practice green and not yet at the range, I'm not sure he'll have time for much more than that today, either.


1:57 p.m. ET: And here he is.

Let it be known that exactly 48 minutes prior to his tee time, Phil Mickelson made his way through the crowd and onto the practice green.

As for how he looks ... well, he looks very much the same as he always looks. I can report there is no IV bag attached to his body and he doesn't look pale white.

And yes, he had eschewed the black-on-black ensemble in favor of a white hat/white shirt/grey pants outfit for the day.


1:54 p.m. ET: Interesting note: Considering most of the fans here at Doral were through the front gates before news of Mickelson's hospital visit broke, there's a good chance that a large percentage of his gallery today doesn't know about this story until they return home tonight and turn on the TV (or, uh, check ESPN.com).

Will be interesting to see whether shouts of, "Feel better, Phil!" and, "Drink plenty of fluids!" permeate from behind the ropes.


1:51 p.m. ET: As one of my colleagues just noted in regard to Phil Mickelson's dehydration, "Maybe he wasn't drinking enough Gatorade Tiger."


1:48 p.m. ET: Continuing the live, local, on-the-scene reporting ... Mickelson's caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay, just walked toward the locker room with Phil's golf bag on his back.

I think that should safely diffuse any possible speculation that Phil won't show today.


1:44 p.m. ET: Mickelson's publicist T.R. Reinman recently spoke with XM Radio, telling them: "As far as I know, he's feeling fine."

Rumor near the clubhouse is that Phil will show at some point in the next 10 minutes.

His absence still isn't much of a concern, though. Nick Watney just made his way out of the clubhouse, signed a few autographs and is heading toward the practice facility. So it's not as if Mickelson is behind schedule at all.


1:33 p.m. ET: First e-mail of the day comes from James in Strathaven, Scotland:

'Beware the injured golfer', as Padraig Harrington proved at The Open Championship last season. But you think this might be serious enough for Lefty to maybe even withdraw and not play today?

It's still all speculative. My gut feeling is that we'll see Phil out here on the practice facility very soon and he'll be on the first tee ready to go at 2:45 p.m. But without having seen or heard from him yet, that's just an educated guess.

As for the injured golfer refrain, you're right -- from Harrington to Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open to Trevor Immelman at the Masters, injury does not necessarily equate to a lack of success.


1:26 p.m. ET: I may be verging on stalker/paparazzi status, but heading in the direction of where Phil Mickelson entered the course yesterday, I still haven't seen him making his way over there.

Can't imagine he will be going with the all-black outfit (with the white belt) he's been wearing for weekend rounds this year again. It's about 85 out here today. Coming off a night of dehydration, it would be a good day for a nice light white shirt and khakis for Phil.


1:20 p.m. ET: Just headed out to the driving range and practice green. No sign of Phil Mickelson yet.

Not too surprising, considering neither those in the second-to-last pairing, Jeev Milkha Singh and Camilo Villegas, nor Mickelson's playing partner Nick Watney are out here, either.

That said, I wouldn't expect it to be too much longer until Phil shows his face.

I can report that he is staying here at Doral, so the commute time from his hotel room to the course is about 30 seconds.


1:15 p.m. ET: I wasn't planning to start the blog until 2 p.m. -- 45 minutes prior to the final pairing of Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney -- but breaking news has prompted an early start.

From Gaylord Sports, which represents Mickelson:

Phil Mickelson was treated last night in a Doral urgent care center for what the attending physician called "heat exhaustion and mild dehydration."

Mickelson, the CA Championship co-leader after three rounds, was lethargic after play Saturday and his conditioned deteriorated rapidly. At 9 p.m., he was admitted to Baptist Medical Plaza at Doral where he received two bags of IV solution.

Mickelson is currently at 16-under-par, tied with Watney for the 54-hole lead and four shots clear of any other competitors.

I can tell you that Mickelson held a 15-20 minute interview session with the media after yesterday's round and appeared lucid, refreshed and even offered a few humorous quips.

Obviously, though, between that time and later in the night his health deteriorated a bit, forcing that visit with a doctor.

How will this affect him in Sunday's final round? What will it mean as far as his on-course play? What precautions will he have to take during the round?

Those are all questions we'll be looking to have answered throughout the day. I'm here on the scene at Doral and will try to find any more news that is out there. Until then, any questions or comments can be sent to the address above ...

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.