Phil Mickelson's disclosure that he has psoriatic arthritis explains a lot—including his failure to claim the No. 1 spot for the last two months. I watched Bob Murphy, my friend and former broadcast partner, suffer with the effects of this disease—unpredictable pains, swelling, drug side effects and a weakened immune system. The great news for Phil (below) is that he has an early and trusted diagnosis from the Mayo Clinic. In 2001 and '03 I was told, incorrectly, that I had chronic fatigue syndrome and then Lyme disease. The stress of a bad diagnosis and the questions about your competitive future and, more important, about your day-to-day health, can be overwhelming and compromise your ability to focus both between and during tournaments. The upside for me was a greater appreciation for life in general. I went to Mayo in early '04 to sort out my medical issues, which is how I know that a clear understanding of his problem will help Phil. He now has the necessary knowledge to move forward and maybe even rise to No. 1.
• After the mess with Jim Gray, Corey Pavin took the politically correct route, saying a predetermined selection of Tiger Woods would be unfair to the other players. O.K., but there isn't a single player who doesn't expect Tiger to be picked. Sure, he has a losing Ryder Cup record and has been inconsistent in 2010, but he's still Tiger, and at the least he's been a comfortable and successful partner with Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk. Unfortunately, the speculation will continue for three more weeks, although on the positive side, that will keep the Ryder Cup in the news.
Dottie Pepper is a 17-year LPGA veteran and golf analyst for NBC.
GOLF PLUS will next appear in the Sept. 6 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
ROBERT BECK (PEPPER)
FRED VUICH (MICKELSON)