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Mickelson gushes about new driver

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SAN DIEGO – With just one event under his belt in 2014, Phil Mickelson has already made headlines for his play on the course, as well as for comments off it regarding his new equipment off the tee.

The five-time major champion remained bullish on his season outlook while speaking Wednesday prior to the start of the Farmers Insurance Open, where he expanded on the changes his game has seen as the result of his new Callaway Big Bertha Alpha driver.

“As the clubheads have gotten bigger, my driving has gotten worse,” said Mickelson, who tied for second last week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. “Having the center of gravity lower and more forward has allowed me to make the same golf swing as my irons and hit the drives and the shots that I want and that I expect. It’s just made driving a lot easier.”

Play off the tee has not exactly been Mickelson’s strong suit over the years – he has cracked the top 150 on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy just once since 2005, finishing 149th last season. Thanks to technological advances and changes to the woods in his bag, though, he now views the area as a strength as he looks to win at Torrey Pines for the first time since 2001.

“Those were my two least favorite clubs, the hybrid and the driver, and now they’re two of my favorite clubs to hit,” he explained. “Every single club in my bag I’m excited to hit, I can’t wait, whereas in the past I might have had a slight dread factor.”

It’s not the first time Mickelson has extolled the virtues of a new driver, nor is it the first time he’s tinkered with the woods in his bag. Last October he briefly used a TaylorMade SLDR driver at the Presidents Cup, while he abandoned his Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver last season despite winning with it in Phoenix and famously used a “Phrankenwood” driver/3-wood combination en route to capturing the claret jug last July.

While spin rates and face angles have caused the five-time major champ to alter his swing off the tee in the past, he’s now able to make the same motion from tee to green – a prospect that may lead to Mickelson taking even more chances on the course.

“It’s just mind-boggling the way it’s made a difference in my game and it allows me to swing like it’s a 7-iron or a 5-iron, and my irons are the strength of my game,” he added. “Now that I’m able to make the same swing with both driver and irons … I’m going to be able to be a much more aggressive player.”