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Mickelson has mixed feelings about chance to overtake Nicklaus

The 47-year-old will bid to win his fourth green jacket at Augusta National.

Phil Mickelson was still in school in 1986 when Jack Nicklaus became the oldest Masters champion in history at the age of 46.

So it is little wonder that the left-hander has mixed feelings about being in position to surpass Nicklaus by winning his fourth green jacket at Augusta National aged 47.

“It is hard for me to believe given that I have watched that Masters so many times over the years,” Mickelson said. “I remember watching it when I was in high school and how hard I pulled for him and how much I loved that Masters.

“The other participants in that, too, from (Greg) Norman to Seve (Ballesteros) to (Tom) Kite, all these players that had great opportunities there on Sunday, what an exciting Masters that was.

“And now to think that I’m this age, the time just flies by, it goes by so quick. I can still remember the feelings as a high school player of dreaming of participating in this tournament, dreaming of winning this tournament. And for me to sit here now as a past champion, it really means a lot to me.”

Mickelson is one of a large number of star names who come into the year’s first major as genuine contenders, especially after ending a five-year winless streak with victory in the WGC-Mexico Championship.

“There were some difficult times and there were some challenges, but I always believed I would overcome them,” added Mickelson, whose previous win was the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield.

“I go back to this point on my putting green four years ago or so with (putting coach) Dave Pelz and thinking that I really need to become a consistent great putter to be able to achieve what I want to in the game.

“We dissected just about every aspect of it from technique to green reading to lag drills, how to practice, what to practice, all the variables. Now I’ve been able to kind of put it together and implement it to where I’m either (number) one or two in all the statistical categories of putting that matter.

“I’m very excited about what that means because week‑in and week‑out I’ve been putting great, with an occasional off week, whereas before I would putt average week‑in and week‑out with an occasional great week.

“And second thing is that I knew that once I achieved that level and I finally did break through and win, I’m going to peel off quite a few more. So I’ve just had the first one, and it’s time to start peeling off a few more.”

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