Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson heads into the Masters with a new driver, a new putter grip and a week off from play as well.
Mickelson won his first green jacket nine years ago in 2004, when he rolled in that 20-footer for birdie on the final green and leaped into the air in pure joy. Lefty came back two years later to capture his second Masters title, and in 2010, he hit one of the most remarkable shots from the pine trees on the 13th hole on Sunday en route to adding a third green jacket to his collection.
Now, Mickelson is in search of his fourth green jacket after his improbable win in 2010. With a win early in the 2013 season at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Mickelson should be confident heading into Thursday's first round. Ironically, the four-time major champ feels nervous after skipping the Valero Texas Open last week and wants to calm his nerves by getting off to a solid start in the first five to six holes of his first round.
Phil Mickelson nervous at Augusta? That does not sound right to me.
Lefty has tinkered with his equipment this week—adding a new driver, which he calls the "Phrankenwood," and adding a fatter grip to his putter—in preparation for the first major of the year. Mickelson explains that the Phrankenwood is basically a small driver with 3-wood technology combined in it, and he hopes that it gives him a few extra yards off the tee.
So far, the results have been positive with his new driver, and if he won the Masters with two drivers, then completing that same endeavor with the Phrankenwood should not be a problem.
This week, Mickelson's chances at winning seem to be rather downplayed with all the excitement surrounding Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. As a matter of fact, Phil isn't even in the top five of the world golf rankings, but the golfing world has learned to never count out the 42-year-old veteran.
I think that Phil has a good chance at contending for his fourth Master's title, but it's difficult at this point to say he'll win it. He has one win under his belt already in 2013, and his history and experience with this prestigious event gives him an advantage over most of the field. Then again, Phil will have to be playing some of his very best golf, which is rather unpredictable when it comes to Phil.
If he can play as well as he did at the Waste Management, then he will most definitely win, but I do not quite see him pulling that off this week. The one thing that gives me pause is his attitude. If he is truly nervous, then those first few holes on Thursday will be a deciding factor on whether or not he wins at Augusta this week.
If Mickelson starts off solid, then he has a good chance at winning, but a string of poor holes to start his Masters tourney might be too much for him to overcome and could end Lefty's hopes for a green jacket this year.