Any new year can start with an old question: What will Phil Mickelson do next?
He's already thrown a changeup into his schedule -- starting his year in a different desert when he tees it up this week in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship instead of the Humana Challenge.
He'll return to San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and likely skip the Match Play Championship again. The curveball is Mickelson's intention of skipping Riviera to play the Honda Classic.
He last played the Honda Classic in 2002 when it was at TPC Heron Bay. It now is at PGA National, a typical Florida resort course. He's played Riviera the past seven years, with two wins and two playoff losses.
What really excites Mickelson is a new driver Callaway Golf made for him.
Mickelson was at his best with a 3-wood -- think back to the 17th at Muirfield, two key shots that led to a British Open win. He says Callaway has used the same technology in that 3-wood and used it for a driver.
"That lowers the spin rate and allows me to drive it much more penetratingly through the air, a lot straighter and I've never driven it this well," he said Tuesday in Abu Dhabi. "That's why I'm so excited about this year. If I can take that weakness and turn it into a strength, the other areas of my game have been as good as they've ever been. I'm excited about 2014."
The tournament has done away with the celebrity portion of the pro-am field, though actor Craig T. Nelson, singer Michael Bolton, Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely and Golf Channel's Holly Sonders are playing as "special guests."
The pro-am players paid from $25,000 to $29,000 to play alongside the pros for the first three days of the event, and six of them will advance to the final round. By eliminating the roughly 20 slots given to celebrities, the event generated more than $500,000.
The regular field also is thin on star power, with Kapalua winner Zach Johnson the top-ranked player at No. 6. Brandt Snedeker, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley are the only other top-30 players.
"I'm the only guy in the field that has two replaced body parts, a new knee and a new hip," Jacobsen said. "So if you guys can work me in a separate category, I might have a chance to win that category. I'm looking at 60 here in March and, for an old chubby guy, I feel like I still got something going."