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Golf Notes January 29th

Phil Mickelson has finally joined the fitness craze on the PGA Tour, only don't expect him to look like Charles Atlas by the end of the year.

"I will always have fat on me," Mickelson said at the Phoenix Open, where his comments sounded more like a physiology dissertation.

"I've got subcutaneous fat. There's nothing I can do. It lies underneath the skin, as opposed to underneath the muscle. And as long as I feel better and get stronger, then I can't really worry about body fat."

The fitness has more to do with his swing.

Mickelson figures he needs to get stronger to take advantage of the new equipment in his bag -- the Titleist 983K driver and the Pro V1x ball designed for higher swing speeds.

He has a personal trainer who also dabbles in the martial arts. Mickelson is working with a medicine ball to improve speed and a physioball to improve strength.

"I haven't missed a day," he said.

He started working out late last year and noticed a difference. He said his personal trainer, Sean Cochran, will accompany him to some Tournaments.

"I haven't been able to lose a pound, but I've been taking a lot of supplements," Mickelson said. "Actually, I've been trying to put on a little weight before I take it off -- build up more muscle mass, then it burns more calories."

Translation: He wants to get stronger and quicker, which will allow him to hit the ball farther and have more control with his irons.

"I've always felt like I've had a high level of commitment to playing well," he said. "Only this year, I've committed to a couple of areas that I think I'll have a better overall quality of life, as well as performance on the Tour."

He started with a tie for ninth in the Phoenix Open. Mickelson is the defending champion at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic this week, then plans to play the next two events.

WHAT'S COOKING: Annika Sörenstam sometimes put in about 36 hours a week on the LPGA Tour and often earned more than $200,000. Moonlighting as a chef took just as much work, without the windfall.

She reported for duty three days a week at Lake Nona Golf Club from noon to 8 p.m., and it certainly wasn't for the pay.

"I haven't seen a check yet," she said.

Passion comes with a price. Sörenstam loves cooking and wanted to pursue it during the offseason by working in the kitchen at her club in Orlando, Fla.

"I thought I'd have to do dishes or maybe peel carrots," she said. "The first day I got in, the chef gave me a recipe for crab cakes and said, 'I need 400.' It took me four hours by the time I made one and put it in the oven."

She added grilled steak, coconut shrimp, cheesecake and sauteed vegetables to her repertoire by the end of her stint and even worked wedding parties.

"I was more tired doing that than after a golf Tournament," she said.

SENIOR LEADERSHIP: The Champions Tour already has a new name, a new TV package and new fan-friendly initiatives. Now, the 50-and-over circuit has a new leader.

Rick George, Tournament director at the HP Classic of New Orleans on the PGA Tour, has been appointed president of the Champions Tour.

He will be responsible for all aspects of the Tour, from Tournament operations to player relations to title sponsors. George will start his new job after the New Orleans Tournament, where he earned a good reputation with the players.

"It was viewed to be the right time in that Tour's development for it to have someone to take the role as president," PGA Tour spokesman Bob Combs said.

Along with George's appointment, the Champions Tour has extended its agreement with The Golf Channel through 2008.

ON THE MEND: Jerry Kelly needed surgery in each of his first three years as a pro, but his scariest health problem came last year after he won the Western Open for his second victory of the season.

He was so dehydrated that Kelly didn't even recognize the symptoms, and it took him four months to fully recover.

"Sunday at the Western, my blue shirt was totally white," he said. "I totally depleted myself of everything I had in me. And what did I do Sunday night? I drank alcohol. What did I do Monday night? I drank alcohol.

"My brain was cramping, and I didn't notice the signs."

Had he known he was severely dehydrated, Kelly could have taken some IVs and been cured within a few days. Instead, he suffered at Milwaukee and the British Open, where players don't have as much access to bottled water.

"I was closer to death than I'd like to know," he said.

He finally replenished his electrolytes but had another scare at Kingsmill when his face started to twitch.

Now he drinks fluids filled with vitamins and electrolytes, even in cool weather because he is susceptible to dehydration.

"That's something I can't mess with," he said.

DIVOTS: Jack Nicklaus has signed an endorsement deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland, the first non-golf brand to appear on his bag. ... More evidence that the PGA Tour ultimately comes down to a putting contest: In winning the Phoenix Open, Vijay Singh made 60 out of 62 putts inside 7 feet, and 68 of 81 inside 15 feet. .... Renton Laidlaw of Scotland, television's voice of the European Tour, has won the 2003 PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism. Laidlaw is the first European-born winner. ... Foreign-born players have won the last five PGA Tour events, which Tour officials believe is the longest streak ever.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Stuart Appleby finished sixth in the Sony Open , the only Tournament he has played this year. He leads the PGA Tour in adjusted scoring average (67.48) over Ernie Els , who has won both his Tournaments in a combined 47 under par.

FINAL WORD: "I played in the pro-am and you had to use each amateur's tee shot twice. We never came close to using my tee shot." - Jack Nicklaus, on the state of his game at the end of last year.

 

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