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Thanks to science, Mickelson prepared to stay competitive much longer

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Phil Mickelson turns 49 years old during the final round of the U.S. Open this summer, but he believes he can fend off Father Time and remain competitive with his approach to health and fitness.

He was asked after winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Monday if he might be the Sam Snead of the modern era, matching Snead’s ability to keep winning late in life.

Snead was 52 years and 311 days old when he won the Greater Greensboro Open in 1965.

“The science is so much better nowadays than it was in his time,” Mickelson said. “The medicines, the fitness knowledge, the nutritional knowledge in all these areas, we're able to take advantage of that and get our bodies to recover, get our bodies to perform to function much more efficiently.

“So, there's no reason why players of this generation could not play to a longer time period and have a longer career.”

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Mickelson is using a nutritionist’s help to tailor his diet for performance, reducing sugars and processed foods. He’s also using biomechanical studies to help turn weaknesses in his body to strengths, and he’s using stretching routines with his trainer to help create more speed in his swing.

Tim Mickelson, Phil’s brother and caddie, is seeing the results.

“Athletes as they get older have to be smarter about how they treat their their bodies, whether that’s nutrition or how they stretch,” Tim said. “You even look at athletes in other sports, like Tom Brady. They have to in order to keep up. I certainly think Phil’s nutrition is better, his flexibility is really good . . . I think his swing speed has been able to stay up because of that.”