Woods, Mickelson start tour season at Torrey

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“Every shot is repelled away from the tucked pins, every green breaks away from the bunkers, every time you’re in a bunker you’ve got a downhill shot. It’s just monotonous to me and it doesn’t allow for great recovery and it does not allow for aggressive play,” he said. “It allows for 40 feet away from the hole and try to make a putt, take advantage of the par 5s.”

Other than that, Mickelson was upbeat about his first PGA Tour event of the year (he was runner-up in Abu Dhabi last week on the European Tour). He loves his new driver, which he calls his favorite club. He’s excited about his putting. He’s more excited going into a year than any other time.

And yes, he’s excited about a U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, not because of where it is but what it is.

Mickelson won the British Open last summer at Muirfield, leaving him one leg short of the career Grand Slam. That would be the U.S. Open, where he already holds the record for most silver medals (six-time runner-up).

“I feel like it’s just a matter of time,” he said. “It may be this year at Pinehurst, it may not, but I do believe that will come. It’s a tournament I’ve played too well in over the years not to finally win, and I actually believe I’ll win a couple.”

Now that’s one thing they have in common. Woods also would love to win another U.S. Open this year. Actually, any major would do.

He has been stuck on 14 majors - four shy of Jack Nicklaus - since that ‘08 Open at Torrey Pines. It has become such a talking point that even though the Masters is 78 days away, Woods starting his 2014 year at a regular tour event is enough to prompt the question, “Will he catch Jack?”

So when asked if this was a big year in that regard, Woods offered a different view - every year is a big year, so nothing has changed.

“Every year that I get a chance to compete and play in tournaments and major championships for as long as I decide to do it … every year counts,” he said. “Looking back from the beginning of my career to now, I know that I don’t have 20 years in my prime. I don’t see being 58 and being in my prime. Most guys don’t dunk from the foul line at age 58, so it’s a little different. But the outlook is still the same.

“I still prepare the same,” he said. “I still work my tail off to be ready to compete at this level and beat everyone that I’m playing against.”

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