Phil Mickelson going ahead with Phoenix Open title defense after testing back

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By JOHN NICHOLSON, AP Sports Writer

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Phil Mickelson is going ahead with his Phoenix Open title defense after testing his ailing lower back Wednesday at exclusive Whisper Rock.

He first felt soreness in his back two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, and then withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open on Friday after making the cut at Torrey Pines. He flew to Georgia to see back specialist Tom Boers and was told his facet joints locked up.

In last year's Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale, the former Arizona State star opened with an 11-under 60 and matched the tournament record of 28 under. He is set to make his 25th start in the event that he also won in 1996 and 2005.

Mickelson also said he expects to play next week at Pebble Beach.

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