Phil Mickelson withdraws from Farmers Insurance Open with back injury

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Phil Mickelson takes his nagging back, which he tweaked in Abu Dhabi and re-injured in Thursday's opening round in San Diego, out of the running for the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

Phil Mickelson withdrew Friday night from the Farmers Insurance Open due to pain in his lower back, according to the Associated Press' Doug Ferguson.

Friday, after nursing his sore muscles to a 1-over 73 on Torrey Pines’ South Course, the world No. 4 sounded more certain than he did on Thursday that he might have to call it quits this week to save the rest of his early 2014 season.

"Yes, repeatedly so," he told Golf Channel about whether he was playing cautiously to protect his back, which he injured last week in Abu Dhabi. "I’m just a little bit unsure."

Playing a defensive game with a swing far less aggressive than is the norm for the go-for-broke southpaw, Mickelson finished the second round at 2-under, eight shots back of 36-hole leader Jordan Spieth. While professing his fondness for playing in front of the hometown crowd, the San Diego native made it pretty clear he was not willing to mortgage his future, and his chance to win his first U.S. Open, for what would appear to be a losing cause.

"I love this tournament and I want to play here. I love playing in San Diego and this is a place where I grew up playing so I really want to play," said the three-time Farmers winner. "And part of me also says that I’m getting in bad habits and if I hit in this rough here, I’ve really got an issue because I’ve got to swing awfully hard to get it out and it jars it. So I’m a little torn right now on the best plan of action."

Mickelson had hoped to get out early on Saturday (he had a 7:45 a.m. local tee time on the more difficult South, where the rest of the action will occur) and "see if I can get something hot, get a hot round going and try to make up some ground.

"But then," he added, "I also want to have the big picture in mind so I’m not quite sure where I’m at yet."

Mickelson's management company alerted the AP about Mickelson's WD, saying the popular golfer would work with doctors to determine what to do next.

Lefty has a busy slate of events ahead of him, including next week's defense of his Waste Management Phoenix Open title, followed quickly by the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. But he has geared a reduced 2014 schedule to be ready for the four major championships, including June's U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

"I have the entire year. I've got majors coming up. I've got other tournaments coming up and I don't want to get in bad habits,'' Mickelson said, according to Ferguson. ''My game is pretty sharp getting ready to start the year and I could tell I'm making terrible swings out there relative to the way I've been swinging."

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