Mickelson aiming for fourth Masters title
His form suggests otherwise but Phil Mickelson believes he has a great opportunity to win a fourth Masters crown this week.
Mickelson has missed the cut in two of his past four Masters and the 47-year-old knows the clock is ticking ahead of Thursday's opening round at Augusta.
Do not think Mickelson has not looked at the calendar -- he sees chances ahead to win his sixth major overall. If not this week, then maybe in July at the Open Championship.
"These first two majors, especially, are great opportunities for me," Mickelson - who has been grouped with Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar - told reporters on Tuesday. "I've not only been playing well, but I'm on courses I am familiar with and have had some great success in the past."
If Mickelson reigns supreme at the Masters, he would join 14-time major winner Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer with four victories at the hallowed course and two back of Jack Nicklaus' record six.
"Now to think that I'm this age, the time just flies by, it goes by so quick, I still feel or I can still remember the feelings as a high school player, dreaming of winning this tournament," he said.
"For me to sit here now, as a past champion, it really means a lot to me."
Despite having won three green jackets, it turns out Mickelson is like almost everyone else when it comes to Augusta National and the Masters.
"I love everything about this place," he said. "From the patrons to the members to how it's run and all the little idiosyncrasies of this club that are different that can be difficult or challenging at times, I've come to kind of love and appreciate.
"All the little nuances, from seeing the same familiar faces out in the gallery or many of the familiar faces and the appreciation they have for certain shots. ... It just makes it a very special experience every time I'm here."
Mickelson's practice round was chock full of past champions. He jokingly said the group decided on first-tee honours based on Masters titles, referring to Woods, himself, Fred Couples and Thomas Pieters: "Four, three, one, zero [green jackets]. We just went right in order. ... It's a respect thing."
Playing alongside Woods provided fans at Augusta a rare glimpse of the two in a more relaxed atmosphere. There were plenty of laughs but some low scores, too.
"We partnered up and had some fun," Mickelson said of Woods. "Watching him eagle 13 and 15, and I made a few birdies in there. We had a five-hole stretch where we were seven-under."