Mickelson excited to leave 'terrible' form behind him

Tue Apr 7, 2015 4:10pm EDT
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By Andrew Both

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson acknowledges that his game has been “terrible” the past 18 months, but a recent improvement and a return to his favorite tournament have filled him with hope heading into the Masters starting on Thursday.

Mickelson says he is driving the ball better than in decades, if not his entire career, and his moribund short game showed signs of life the past two weeks as he prepared for the first major of the year.

“I really thought I would start the year out on fire and it couldn't have been further from that,” a seemingly relaxed Mickelson told reporters at Augusta National on Tuesday.

“But I'm excited with where I see my game is going. You have got to take baby steps (and) the first step for me was getting my aggressive style back, getting my focus back to make birdies, and that mental intensity that's needed.”

The 2004, 2006 and 2010 champion says arriving at Augusta National is rejuvenating.

“It gives me a new energy,” the 44-year-old added. “And I think that energy helps me work hard, play hard and focus better and play my best. There's not a course that I feel more comfortable on.

“This is the one we (the players) want to win the most, the tournament I think is the most meaningful.“It’s what you think about in the off-season, when you’re in the gym at 530 in the morning (and) you don’t want to be there. This is what gives us the motivation.”

Three of Mickelson’s five major victories have been at Augusta, along with the 2005 PGA Championship and the 2013 British Open.   Continued...

Apr 7, 2015; Augusta, GA, USA;  Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson speaks with the media during a press conference on a practice round day for The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports