- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 1, 2011

SAN DIEGO (AP) - One of the more compelling images from Torrey Pines apparently won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Phil Mickelson, in the middle of a five-week stretch of tournaments, took time off to rest Tuesday. That allowed his caddie a chance to sneak over to play golf at Whisper Rock before getting back to work at the Phoenix Open.

Jim “Bones” Mackay wasn’t on the phone very long when it was time for him to play a shot, so he handed the phone off to someone in his group. That turned out to be Geoff Ogilvy, who provided details of the round.

“We’re actually having Bones run up from the fairway to tend the flag for us,” Ogilvy said.

He was only kidding, and Mackay can expect plenty of that.

In yet another case of Mickelson’s entertainment value, he needed an eagle on the par-5 18th hole at Torrey Pines to force a playoff with Bubba Watson. The odds weren’t very good, and Mickelson knew that. But leaving nothing to chance, he had Mackay tend the flag as he stood over his third shot from 72 yards out in the fairway.

Having a caddie tend the flag for a full shot from the fairway is unusual, but not unprecedented. Then again, it was only nine months ago when Mickelson told his caddie NOT to tend the flag when he had a birdie putt on the green.

That happened in the third round at Quail Hollow last year, when Mickelson was trying to make a point about the severe greens. From 60 feet away, he felt his only chance at par was to putt well right of the cup. He ended up getting his par.

Few players are more unpredictable than Mickelson.

Yes, he is Phil the Thrill.

Phil also has a plan.

He came into this season with a pointed message that he delivered first in Abu Dhabi, then repeated last week at the Farmers Insurance Open, where he shot four rounds in the 60s and had to settle for second place.

Mickelson wants 2011 to be the kind of year he hoped 2010 would be.

He won the Masters last year, a moment made even more special when his wife, Amy, was on the 18th green for the first time since being diagnosed with breast cancer. His chief nemesis, Tiger Woods, was out of the picture with his personal life and golf game in a free fall. It appeared to be only a matter of time before Mickelson replaced him at No. 1 in the world ranking.

A dozen tournaments came and went, and the baton instead was passed to Lee Westwood.

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