Mickelson eyes record-tying fifth Pebble Beach win

Tue Feb 4, 2014 3:31pm EST
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(Reuters) - Phil Mickelson returns to one of his favorites venues for this week's Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, bidding for a record-equalling fifth victory before taking a short break from the PGA Tour for family time.

The American world number four claimed the most recent of his four titles in the picturesque surrounds of Pebble Beach Golf Links in 2012, and has been largely encouraged by his form so far this year.

He tied for second at the European Tour's Abu Dhabi Championship in his first start of 2014 and, though he withdrew after the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open the next week due to back pain, believes he is close to his best.

"My game is not far off, even though the score says that it is," Mickelson told reporters, referring to his closing level-par 71 at last week's Phoenix Open where he tied for 42nd.

"It was just a fraction off. My irons were what I struggled with but I drove the ball well, short game wasn't bad, putting wasn't bad. I have to go back to work on my iron play.

"The back feels great and I'm looking forward to Monterey (this week)."

Two years ago, Mickelson charged to victory by two shots at Pebble Beach after firing a flawless eight-under-par 64 in the final round and he has long relished competing in the pro-am celebrity event staged on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula.

"It's one of my favorite places to play golf," said the five-times major champion. "It's just a special week. We play three of the most amazing golf courses on tour and all combined in one week."

The $6.6 million event will be played on three courses: the hosting Pebble Beach Golf Links and its sister venues Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Shore.   Continued...

Jan 23, 2014; La Jolla, CA, USA; Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot from the ninth hole during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports