TIGER AND PHIL have not duked it out on a golf course since late August, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped competing with each other. Two and a half months after Woods introduced his course-design company, Tiger Woods Design, Mickelson is going public with his own architectural firm: Phil Mickelson Design. Mickelson was expected to announce his venture on Tuesday in Palm Desert, Calif., before making his season debut at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. Lefty, who co-designed the Lower course at Whisper Rock in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2001, has already lined up two projects. The first is River Rock, a new development in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains that will include a nine-hole par-3 course designed by his coach, Rick Smith. The second, Diamante Cabo, will be an exclusive development north of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Several other deals are in the works. Wonder if any will have trees down the left side of the 18th fairway?… Speaking of Winged Foot, everyone is in a rush to portray Mickelson’s 72nd-hole meltdown as his Jar-Jar Binks moment. (You know, when a once great entity collapses into a death spin of permanent suckitude.) Not so fast. Mickelson has a history of up and down years and seems to use bad ones as motivation to come back strong. (Bad 1999, good 2000; bad ’03, good ’04.) He’s positioned to do it again. During a leviathan break Lefty has been sweating through almost daily workouts with personal trainer Sean Cochran and reportedly is champing at the bit to get back inside the ropes (just not enough to fly to Hawaii). He has even given up soda! What’s more, Phil plans to continue pumping up once he resumes playing to maintain his stamina and focus, an indication that he’s in for the long FedEx haul. (That sound you just heard was Tim Finchem exhaling.)
• CBS ANALYST and Champions tour comedian Gary McCord wasn’t laughing last week when he spent two days at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale after doctors discovered a viral infection in the lining of his heart. McCord experienced chest pain while broadcasting the Merrill Lynch Shootout in November in Naples, Fla., and when it persisted McCord scheduled a physical for Jan. 9 at Mayo. Doctors diagnosed the infection and fluid buildup in his chest. The fluid was drained, and McCord was admitted overnight before being released the next day with orders to rest. At press time he was still scheduled to appear at a charity event in Cabo San Lucas this week and to work for CBS at the Buick Invitational Jan. 25-28…. Webb Simpson was named Carolinas Men’s Player of the Year last Thursday. In the 10 years the award has been given, six others have won it, and three — Jonathan Byrd, Bill Haas and D.J. Trahan — are now on Tour. Simpson could be the fourth. The 21-year-old from Raleigh plays for Wake Forest and is the country’s top-ranked amateur.
• SUGGESTED WOODS BABY NAME OF THE WEEK: Nike.