January 30, 2014 / 1:07 AM / 4 years ago

Mickelson to shake off back pain, defend Phoenix Open title

Jan 23, 2014; La Jolla, CA, USA; Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot from the ninth hole during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Phil Mickelson, who was recently diagnosed with locked facet joints in his lower back, said on Wednesday he will defend his title at this week’s Phoenix Open.

The five-times major champion had been in doubt with a back injury that prompted him to withdraw from last week’s PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines in Southern California after two rounds.

“I had a good practice session, though I didn’t go full speed for much of it. I feel fine. I expect to play and play well,” Mickelson said in a statement ahead of the Jan 30-February 2 Phoenix Open.

Mickelson, who was diagnosed with and treated for locked facet joints in his lower back, says he also plays to play next week’s Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

The 43-year-old Californian won last year’s Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale with a wire-to-wire victory that included an opening round 60.

Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue

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