Golf

Phil Mickelson Surprisingly Calls It Quits At 2014 Valero Texas Open

Phil Mickelson Withdraws Valero Texas Open

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As if opening the week at the Valero Texas Open with a 77 wasn’t enough to ruin Phil Mickelson‘s week. While Mickelson made a miraculous up-and-down from the water on No. 18 to make the cut on Friday, his body decided it had had enough early in his third round on Saturday.

Comparatively speaking, Mickelson wasn’t playing particularly poorly, starting on the back nine and making two birdies to three bogeys to find himself at just one-over for the day. Still, he was well out of contention, and just struggling to stay afloat probably wasn’t what he had in mind when he started the day.

Mickelson cited an oblique injury as the reason for his withdrawal, as he was seen grabbing his side after a swing on the second hole, his 11th of the day. He’s dealt with several back issues over the years, and at 43 years old, it’s not too surprising that these little things are going to act up more often.

What’s most surprising about this, however, is how quickly it seemed to flare up. Mickelson told reporters just yesterday that “my speed is back, my back feels great, my body feels great and I’m able to hit the ball hard again.” Now, with just 11 days until the start of the Masters Tournament, his health is a concern once again.

Jim Mackay, Mickelson’s longtime caddie, said that he will play next week’s Shell Houston Open, the final PGA Tour stop before Augusta, “if he can.”

I wrote on Thursday that Mickelson’s poor start this week was nothing to worry about, but that was before he had to withdraw for the second time in this early part of the season. It looks like Lefty might need some time off before Augusta, and while that shouldn’t hurt his mental preparation, any lingering concerns about his physical health are only going to make his chase for another green jacket that much harder.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer for RantSports.com. “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, or join him on Google+.