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Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Phil Mickelson won't use driver

By Farrell Evans

AUGUSTA, Ga., -- Phil Mickelson will use a modified 3-wood as his driver when the Masters begins Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club.

The three-time Masters champion, who last won here in 2010, had his club manufacturer combine characteristics of a driver with a 3-wood for a club that gives him better accuracy off the tee without sacrificing distance. The club conforms to USGA guidelines.

Two weeks ago at the Shell Houston Open, the 42-year-old San Diego native first mentioned his "special club" that would have a smaller head, a lower-ball flight and more run in the fairway.

Mickelson said on Tuesday the club takes spin off the ball. So on some holes now at Augusta, he's getting another 15 to 20 yards in distance.

"The tee shot on 15 is getting down to where I have one or two clubs less, and because it comes off fast, as well as low spin, it's running, which is exactly what I wanted here," said Mickelson, who finished in a tie for third last year.

Mickelson is looking for anything that will help calm his nerves.

"I haven't been in competition since the Sunday of the Houston Open, and that's been -- it will be 10, 11 days, I guess, as opposed to three, and that's what I'm nervous about is just those first opening five or six holes, being mentally tuned in," Mickelson said.

However, Mickelson said he did have some nice practice sessions the past several days.

The 41-time PGA Tour winner said he's not surprised to see Tiger Woods is the favorite to win this week.

"Tiger is playing some incredible golf," Mickelson said. "It's going to be a very difficult thing for us to beat him this week."

Since 2000, Mickelson has finished outside of the top 10 at Augusta on only two occasions. He's optimistic about his chances for success this year.

"I don't have to hit perfect shots to make pars," Mickelson said. "There are a lot of holes here where I can make mistakes off the tee and with my short game, I know can recover.

"It's not like the U.S. Open where if you make one little mistake, it's costing you one or two shots because you don't have the ability to recover. That's what Augusta National offers is that recovery shot, which means you don't have to be perfect from the tee, which I like."