Phil Mickelson being treated for a form of arthritis

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — Now it all makes sense. For months golf's No. 1 ranking has sat there on a platter, ready to be consumed by Phil Mickelson.

But based on Mickelson's play, you might have wondered whether he actually wanted to overtake Tiger Woods as the world's greatest player.

Now we know otherwise.

Mickelson revealed Tuesday at the PGA Championship that he is being treated for a form of arthritis that left him so debilitated, he could not get out of bed during a family vacation to Hawaii in late June.

"Every joint in my body started to hurt to where I couldn't move," he said.

The problem first surfaced the Sunday before the U.S. Open. Mickelson felt pain in his feet, lower back and fingers but managed to play at Pebble Beach (and tie for fourth) after taking Advil and stretching for three to four hours a day.

"Then it progressively got worse," he said.

An initial diagnosis revealed that Mickelson has psoriatic arthritis, which is characterized by inflammation of the joints and can result in stiffness, burning and pain.

Mickelson already has endured a cruel stretch, with both his wife and mother being diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

After struggling to a tie for 48th at the British Open, Mickelson visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where the diagnosis was confirmed.

Mickelson kept his condition quiet for two months, he said, because he did "not want (to offer) excuses. And I don't want to discuss something when I don't know what the outcome is going to be."

Mickelson recently began taking weekly shots of Enbrel, which blocks a substance in the body that activates the cells that cause inflammation and arthritis. Only in the last week has he felt well enough to work out and "practice full bore."

"I feel confident," he said, "that it not only won't affect the rest of my career or the rest of my life, but even in the short term it should not have an effect."

Woods' troubles have been above the surface. And they were self-induced, the result of a playboy lifestyle that didn't mesh with his marital status.

The result: Woods shot 18 over par last week at Firestone, beating only one man in the 80-player field.

Desperate to rediscover his game, Woods had caddie Steve Williams use the end of a club on the 16th tee during Tuesday's practice round to keep Woods' head from swaying dramatically during full swings.

Woods also asked swing guru Sean Foley, already in the group to observe pupils Hunter Mahan and Sean O' Hair, to videotape some swings.

Woods, who split with longtime coach Hank Haney in May, said he might begin working with the Florida-based Foley, but that there are "a lot of other coaches" he has spoken with.

Graeme McDowell can easily relate to Woods' response to his troubles.

"Slumps come with a lot of soul searching," he said. "When you have five hours out there on a golf course, you have so much time to think about what has gone wrong and what you need to do to fix it. You start questioning every aspect of what you're doing, from family right up to your coach, your manager, your caddie, your equipment."

McDowell slumped from 2006-07, made drastic changes (coach, caddie, equipment) and rebounded to win the U.S. Open in June.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad