Lefty commands spotlight at Pebble Beach

Wed Feb 6, 2013 8:19pm EST
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(Reuters) - Celebrities such as actor Bill Murray and singer Huey Lewis have established a high profile at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am but no one will command a greater share of the spotlight this week than defending champion Phil Mickelson.

Fresh from a scintillating display of dominant golf at the Phoenix Open where he clinched his 41st PGA Tour victory by four shots on Sunday, Mickelson returns to the picturesque surrounds of Pebble Beach Golf Links close to the best form of his career.

The American left-hander has long been renowned for his magical short game and exciting shot-making but he is especially excited by his much improved accuracy since acquiring a new driver which he put into play for the first time last week.

"It just changed my whole deal," a beaming Mickelson told reporters after closing with a four-under-par 67 on the Stadium Course at the TPC Scottsdale.

"The fact that this club is so easy to hit now, I think it's going to change the rest of the year for me. I really do.

"My iron play has always been the strength of my game ... but to drive it as easily as I did in play and to have the misses be so much less is going to set up for a very good year, I believe."

Armed with his new Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver, four-times major champion Mickelson pounded the ball long and straight for most of the week at Scottsdale, and came within a whisker of shooting a 59 in the opening round.

"To be able to make a driver that spins this low with this much loft for me has never been done," said the 42-year-old, who had previously used a less-lofted model while adopting a more upward swing plane.

"Now I'm able to make the same golf swing as my irons. It really could be a revolutionary club for me."   Continued...

U.S. golfer Phil Mickelson hits off the 11th tee of the north course at Torrey Pines during first round play at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, California January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake