Mickelson aiming to become golf's oldest major winner

Phil Mickelson (AP)
Phil Mickelson (AP)

Augusta - Five-time major champion Phil Mickelson would become golf's oldest major winner this week at Augusta National if he can turn back the clock and win a fourth Masters green jacket.

And the US left-hander, who turns 49 in June, said on Tuesday he sees no reason why older players shouldn't be able to compete later in their career with golf's rising young stars.

"There's no reason with the knowledge we have in fitness, the knowledge we have in biomechanics and the knowledge we have with nutrition and so forth, that we at a much older age than in the past shouldn't be able to perform at a very high level," said Mickelson.

"I remember five years ago, I was struggling with the putter. I was terrible in stats. And then the last two or three years, I've been top-10 in just about every stat by working on it and figuring some stuff out and spending the time.

"It just takes a little bit of effort, a little bit of analysis, and I think you can turn back the clock."

Mickelson has his first chance this week to become golf's oldest major winner, eclipsing the mark set by Julius Boros when he won the 1968 PGA Championship at 48 years and four months.

Having won his first major title 15 years ago at the Masters, Mickelson is old enough to have snubbed a young fan for an autograph in the Masters parking lot who grew up into three-time major winner Brooks Koepka, who was born in 1990.

"He told me years later I shouldn't have been in the parking lot," Koepka said. "So fair enough."

Mickelson smiled at the anecdote.

"When reporters ask you about stuff like that, it makes me feel old, sure, so thank you for bringing that up," Mickelson said.

"It's actually fun stories that a guy like Brooks Koepka, who has won three majors has been out here following as a kid. It's a little weird but it's pretty cool.

"To be able to play with him and see his greatness shine and to be a somewhat a witness to it as well as compete against it, it has been fun.

"There are a lot of good, young players like that I have a lot of respect for that were barely born, or weren't born, when I started playing the tour (in 1992)."

World number 22 Mickelson, who plays his 100th career Masters round on Friday, spent four days last week at Augusta National working on his game and scouting out course changes from last year rather than playing a PGA event as he has in most weeks before the Masters.

"It's a chance to be fresh and ready, but it's also a chance to be maybe not as sharp," Mickelson said. "I'm just not quite sure how it's going to play out."

But he does know he likes how he is driving the ball.

"I'm hitting it far," he said. "And that's all I care about right now."

Mickelson won his 44th career PGA title in February at Pebble Beach, the same course where "Lefty" will try and complete a career Grand Slam in June at the US Open.

But for now, he's happy to fall back upon happy memories since his 1991 Masters debut.

"It's so fun for me to come back to this special place and reminisce," Mickelson said.

"Drive up Magnolia Lane and things just change for everyone. You just have that special remembrance of when you were a kid dreaming of coming here and playing, and it brings out oftentimes the best in everyone."

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