Three-time winner Phil Mickelson is sitting out the Masters for the first time in 28 years, and his friend Bryson DeChambeau said Tuesday the US veteran has “gone dark.” Mickelson said in February he was taking a “desperately” needed break from golf after his comments on the Saudi-backed super league, spearheaded by Greg Norman, provoked a furore.

DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion, was asked about his good friend as he spoke to reporters at Augusta National.

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“I’ve tried to reach out, but he’s gone dark,” DeChambeau said of Mickelson, the reigning PGA Champion. “There’s no contact.”

DeChambeau has been a rare sight on tour this year himself. He missed six weeks due to hand and hip injuries, returning last month for the WGC Match Play — where he failed to make the round of 16 — and missing the cut at the Texas Open last week.

“I’m probably around 80 per cent right now,” the long-hitting American said.

“I can’t go all-out. I can’t do any speed training sessions. I can’t practice for excessive hours, like, I have to figure stuff out.”

DeChambeau said the injuries were largely the product of his unrelenting practice and the hand injury – a hairline fracture of the hamate bone in his left hand — was made worse when he took a tumble playing ping-pong with fellow pros at the Saudi International, where he was forced to withdraw.

DeChambeau said doctors had advised him to take more time off, but the lure of the first major championship of the year was too strong.

“It was a huge risk a couple weeks ago,” he said.

“It was probably not one that my doctors recommended, but I decided to do so because I wanted to give this tournament a run.”

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DeChambeau said the injuries have made him “a little smarter” in how he practices, limiting the number of balls he hits.

“Today was the first time I can just go and hit golf balls for a long period of time and just get really comfortable and dialed in, so I feel pretty nice and comfortable going into this week so far,” he said.

And DeChambeau insisted it wasn’t completely unrealistic to think he can contend for a green jacket.

“At 80 per cent I’m still around 190 ball speed,” he said. “From a chipping and putting perspective, I’m getting really close to having my A Game there.

“I think a few factors coming in, having a golf swing that’s more repeatable with the speed and being able to read greens better, may allow me to have a chance to win.”



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