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Column: For Mickelson, it's not easy being rich

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Column: For Mickelson, it's not easy being rich

It's not always easy being rich, as Phil Mickelson reminded us the other day. There are taxes to pay - apparently lots of them - and the price of a tank of jet fuel seems to go up every day.

A million dollars a week just doesn't go as far as it used to, now that the wealthy are paying more in taxes. For Mickelson, things have gotten so bad that he's thinking of moving from California so the state doesn't get a cut of the $47 million that Golf Digest estimates he made last year.

Thankfully, it's not quite to the point where Tiger Woods and his buddies need to hold a car wash to raise money for Lefty. He has, after all, made an estimated $400 million in the last decade and even the greediest of tax collectors doesn't take it all.

And he does seem to realize - though a bit belatedly - that one thing rich people shouldn't do is complain to people who aren't rich about the taxes they have to pay. Mickelson was barely done moaning about the taxman the other day when he began a round of apologies that continued Wednesday at his hometown tournament in San Diego.

``I've made some dumb, dumb, mistakes, and, obviously, talking about this stuff was one of them,'' Mickelson said.

Not to worry. There are ways to stay put at home and still have enough left over for a few of the Five Guys hamburger franchises he loves so much.

Among them are:

WIN LESS: What good is winning when you have to pay so much of your earnings to the government? Sure, it goes against Mickelson's competitive instincts, but there's a good living to be made in the middle of the pack on the PGA Tour, where almost everyone is a millionaire. This week's winning payout at Torrey Pines is $1,080,000, but why deal with the anguish of giving so much of it away? Luckily Mickelson has already taken an important step in that direction by winning only two times since capturing the Masters three years ago.

THINK SILVER: Back in the days when the Tournament of Champions was held in Las Vegas and people still had silver dollars, the winner was paid every year with a wheelbarrow full of the coins. It might take a dump truck to hold enough silver dollars for today's huge purses, but imagine the fun Mickelson could have when the IRS comes by to take its share.

SMALLER PLANE: Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were always plane guys, and so is Mickelson. He saved enough to buy a jet of his own that seats 14, allowing him to do things like play in the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles and still be home in San Diego every night to tuck the kids in bed. But the Gulfstream 5 is a bit pricey at a reported $60 million, and it sucks up the gas. Maybe Mickelson could downsize to a used Cessna instead, or share a jet with Tiger. If all else fails, Southwest Airlines has a ton of flights out of San Diego every day, and his golf bag can fly free.

GIVE IT UP: Golf memberships are expensive, and Mickelson surely has more than one. But he's always seemed like a man of the people, so why not play golf at the local muni? The downside is six-hour rounds and greens with ruts in them as deep as the divots Mickelson takes with his 64-degree wedge. Still, it's a deal at 25 bucks or so a round, plus a few more for a pull cart.

MINOR LEAGUE: Who needs the Padres when you can have the Quakes? Sure, Mickelson's plans to own part of the San Diego Padres fell apart when his personal financial crisis hit, but that doesn't mean he's out of baseball altogether. Less than 100 miles up I-15 from his San Diego home are the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a minor league team that would be a perfect fit for Lefty, who once had a pitching tryout of sorts with the Toledo Mud Hens. Mickelson could trim player payroll by taking the mound himself every fifth day.

NO GIVEAWAYS: Mickelson has a habit of finding some cute kid every few holes and handing them a barely used ball. That's not only a waste of a perfectly good ball, but can get expensive. From now on just flash that goofy smile, give the kids a thumbs up, and move on to the next hole.

FIRE SALE: Mickelson has had his house outside of San Diego in Rancho Santa Fe on the market now for a year for $7.1 million. That's probably a fair price for a 9,500 square-foot complex perched on a hillside with a big putting green and swimming pool, but maybe it's time to start doing a little bargaining to free up some extra cash. The good news is interest rates are so low some lucky buyer can get a mortgage on the place for only $31,795 a month.

GET A NEW CPA: Mickelson's claim that he will be paying up to 62 percent of his income in taxes this year bears some scrutiny, even with higher federal and state rates for the wealthy. Consider that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney - whose net worth is estimated at $250 million - paid an average of 20.2 percent of his income the past 20 years in taxes, and you have to wonder about the math. Maybe Mickelson needs to take his money out of Five Guys and buy H&R Block instead.

Then again, maybe Mickelson should just be like Tiger. He's spent most of his career chasing Woods, so why not follow him to Florida, where Woods moved the day he turned pro so he didn't have to pay higher taxes in his native California.

As an added benefit it could finally get Mickelson an invitation to the Tavistock Cup, which features rich players from one elite country club facing off against rich players from another elite country club.

The beauty of that? No state tax on the winnings.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org orhttp://twitter.com/timdahlberg

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3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

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USA TODAY Sports

3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

The first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game did not go well for Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three times in the opening frame and rode that lead all the way to the 4-2 win.

With the game heading towards a repeat of their blowout loss to Chicago, the Capitals rebounded in the second period to make a game of it as Lars Eller scored on a power play. Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington within one in the third period, but Nikita Kucherov slammed the door shut with a breakaway goal to extend the lead back to 2.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Brayden Point: Tampa Bay won this game in the first period when they took a 3-0 lead. Point scored two of those three goals. His first came at the 2:30 mark of the game. He retreated to the blue line on the power play believing Jay Beagle would clear the puck. When Beagle turned the puck over, he recognized it and immediately crashed the net, taking a Ryan Callahan pass in the slot and shooting it through the five-hole of Braden Holtby. On his second goal, Anton Stralman saw an opportunity on the Caps’ line change and passed the puck up to Point at the blue line. Point turned on the jets to get behind the defense and went five-hole again on Holtby to make the score 3-0.

2. Alex Ovechkin: After the first period, Washington slowly took this game over for much of the remaining 40 minutes. Ovechkin was a big part of that as he totaled an incredible 19 shot attempts for the game. Nine of those shots were on goal and he found the back of the net in the third period for career goal No. 594.

3. Tom Wilson: Through the first period, the Caps looked well on their way to a repeat of the 7-1 debacle they suffered Saturday in Chicago. They had nothing going in this game until Wilson drew a trip from Vladislav Namestnikov in the second period. Eller would score on the resulting power play giving Washington some much-needed life. The Namestnikov penalty was the 29th drawn penalty of the season for Wilson, which moves him into a tie with Matthew Tkachuk for the most drawn penalties in the NHL.

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Wizards set to have Tim Frazier back against Cavs after nasal fracture surgery

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Wizards set to have Tim Frazier back against Cavs after nasal fracture surgery

The All-Star break came at a good time for Wizards point guard Tim Frazier, who missed their last game before the week off due to nasal fracture surgery.

Frazier was back at the Wizards' practice on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena and expects to play on Thursday when the team returns to action on the road at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I feel good. I feel like I can go out there and help them compete," he said.

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Frazier, 27, had surgery to repair his broken nose on Feb. 11 after he was knocked out of the previous night's game between the Wizards and Bulls. Frazier collided face-first with the knee of Bobby Portis and was immediately ushered to the locker room with blood streaming from his nose.

Following the procedure, Frazier had to battle through pain and breathing issues. He feels much better now and had no complications after participating in a full practice.

The challenge now is adjusting to a fitted mask he will have to wear to return to the court. Frazier has never had to wear a mask before in his basketball career.

"[Sweat] was one of the issues today, trying to keep it dry when I'm sweating underneath," he said.

"He looked good," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I thought he would be a little uncomfortable with it, but he seemed fine."

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Frazier has been given advice from the Wizards' training staff, as well as teammate Bradley Beal who has had to wear a mask twice before in his career.

"Brad said that after a while you get used to it. Nobody wants to wear it for the rest of their careers besides Rip Hamilton," Frazier said.

Getting Frazier back is significant for the Wizards, who are already down a point guard with John Wall rehabbing from left knee surgery. Without Frazier against the Knicks on Wednesday, the Wizards had to use Beal and Otto Porter to bring the ball up at times. Now, with Tomas Satoransky and Frazier, they have a starting point guard and a backup who is used to playing the position.

They could have three point guards, as the Wizards continue to weigh their options in free agency. They have to add a player within the next two days to meet the league's minimum roster requirement. Most of the free agents they have evaluated have been point guards as they aim to compensate for Wall's absence, which could last well into the month of March.

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