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‘It is my favorite week’: A year after skipping Masters, Phil Mickelson excited to be back at Augusta National

Phil Mickelson shocked plenty in the golf world last year when he announced he skipped the Masters Tournament during a hiatus from golf.

Mickelson was encased in controversy for comments he made to about the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabia regime, which bankrolled LIV Golf, which a year ago had yet to play its first event.

Now, Mickelson is the face of the LIV Golf League, which is in its second season. During a practice round Tuesday, he was sporting the Hy Flyers logo, the LIV team he’s a captain of, on his hat and shirt. He’s also back at Augusta National, something he has been looking forward to ahead of the year’s first major.

Although he didn’t have a scheduled news conference Tuesday in the Press Building – Cameron Smith is the only LIV golfer to hold one – Mickelson did speak with reporters for about seven minutes after his practice round and covered a variety of topics, including how tough it was to miss the Masters last year and how great it was to be back.

“It is my favorite week, so being here and being a part of it, and being able to experience this great place and what it means is so fun because, as a kid, you grow up dreaming about being a part of this,” Mickelson said. “You dream of winning it, being in contention, and then when you actually are a pro and you are playing here, you’re like, wow, I want to be a part of this every year.”

Masters 2023 leaderboard: Get the latest news from Augusta

Mickelson has done plenty of winning at Augusta National, claiming the green jacket in 2004, 2006 and 2010. However, his recent play hasn’t been where it was more than a decade ago.

He hasn’t won on any tour since his triumph at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course in the 2021 PGA Championship at age 51. He has one top 10 since moving to LIV Golf, and this year, his best finish is 27th. Last week at LIV Golf Orlando, he finished 41st (of 48 players).

Does Mickelson think he can win this week?

Phil Mickelson talks with his caddie Tim Mickelson during a practice round ahead of the 2023 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Network)

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t feel that way,” he said. “It’s also, I’ve got to be realistic. I haven’t scored the way I want to, but I do see a lot of positive signs. I’m going to try to just be patient, whether it’s this week or soon, because things are about to click.”

Mickelson was also asked about his opinion on the USGA and R&A’s proposal on rolling back the golf ball, which he responded he didn’t have an opinion yet.

He said he visited Augusta National a couple weeks ago and got some practice rounds in. He said the conditions were similar to what the forecast calls for this week, which includes plenty of rain.

He noted the changes to the 13th hole make it much tougher, and wet weather will make it even more difficult for him and others to go for the green in two.

“I don’t know if it’s really worth the risk for me,” Mickelson said. “I’m a decent wedge player, and I may just try to make a birdie that way.”

With the Champions Dinner coming Tuesday night, Lefty said he doesn’t see any issues arising with the combination of PGA Tour and LIV golfers. However, he thinks Scottie Scheffler’s menu looks enticing.

“I always fight the weight demons, and that cookie, skillet cookie with ice cream, that’s going to be tough for me to pass,” Mickelson said. “But I got to do it. I can’t be doing that right now.”

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