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Notebook: Calc gets in shape for Mercedes

Mark Calcavecchia, Mercedes-Benz Championship
Mark Calcavecchia prepared for the rugged terrain of West Maui by climbing the South Mountain in Phoenix.

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Mark Calcavecchia was halfway up a mountain in Arizona when he stopped to text Tiger Woods.

"Hiking a mountain. May die."

Within minutes, he got a reply from Woods.

"You must be on the Plantation Course."

The 47-year-old Calcavecchia was only preparing for the Plantation Course at Kapalua, site of the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship. He isn't known for a strict workout routine — or any workout routine, for that matter — but Calcavecchia decided to prepare for the rugged terrain of West Maui by climbing the South Mountain in Phoenix.

"I hiked it three times last week, just to brace myself for up here a little bit," he said.

Part of that was from experience. The last time Calcavecchia played at Kapalua, he showed up with rust and rubbery legs and spent four days walking up and down the hilly fairways. When he got to the California desert for the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, he hurt so much that he had an MRI on his right knee to make sure he had not injured something.

"Walking this course took a toll on me, so I wanted to be a little bit better prepared," he said.

The climb was about 45 minutes and comes with a view of downtown Phoenix and a race track. And then comes the hike down, which Calcavecchia said was no picnic, either.

"I've slipped a few times, and you can kind of hurt yourself if you're not careful," he said.

How that preparation pays off is yet to be determined. Players are allowed to ride in carts through the pro-am Wednesday until the tournament begins.

This wasn't the first time Calcavecchia exchanged a text with Woods around this time of the season. Two years ago, when Woods skipped the season-opener for the first time when not injured, Calcavecchia's text thanked him for staying home.

"More cash for us," he said.

LEFTY'S START: Three tournaments will be in the books before Phil Mickelson makes his debut on the PGA Tour this year, the longest he has ever waited to start since he turned pro.

Mickelson will be skipping the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic for the first time since 2001, and there is sure to be speculation that Lefty is not happy with the change of courses at a tournament where he has won twice.

He has not played since winning the HSBC Champions in China in early November.

"Taking more than two months off sounds like a long time, but I'll have to be fresh and ready to go when the 2008 season starts because I'll play five in a row starting in San Diego," Mickelson said on his Web site.

A spokesman confirmed he will not play until the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines.

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