By Steve Keating
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson has always been a magician on the golf course but sounded more like a mad scientist on Tuesday discussing his creation the 'Phrankenwood' he is about to unleash on Augusta National.
The hugely popular Mickelson will never be mistaken for Dr. Frankenstein but his monster club, described as a "souped up three-wood/driver combo", is designed to strike fear into fellow golfers as he chases a fourth Masters title.
"I asked the engineers to take that technology in our three wood and just put it on steroids, which is probably not the best way to say it, but I wanted to make it more like a driver," explained Mickelson.
"It's a larger three-wood but it's got a driver shaft in it and it's hot like our three-wood. We had to put hot in the name, it's so hot."
Mary Shelley's horror tale about Frankenstein does not remotely fit Mickelson's nice guy profile but the left-hander is a ruthless competitor and if he is able to control his creation, he will be among the favorites to slip into the green jacket on Sunday.
During practice rounds, Mickelson has already seen enough from his new driver to convince him it has improved his chances of adding to his collection of four major wins.
He introduced the club at the Phoenix Open in February, going on to claim his only PGA Tour win of the season thus far, and says he's already been hitting the ball further at National Augusta.
"What it's done is taken a lot of spin off of it and if you watch," he gushed.
"You'll see a lot of the shots off the tee that I hit have a lot more scoot on them."
Mickelson also arrived at Augusta with a new pre-Masters routine, opting not to compete in the week leading into the year's first major.
In the last few years, Mickelson has fine tuned his Masters preparations at the Houston Open because of its similarities to Augusta.
But with the Texas Open in San Antonio now acting as the lead in event to the Masters, Mickelson decided to shake up his final routine and come directly to Augusta.
"I'm a little bit nervous heading in because I'm not competing the week before, as I have for many years in the past," said Mickelson.
"Having that open week, I'm a little bit nervous...but I had some great days here. I came out here and spent Friday, Saturday, Sunday here, got some good work done and got to spend a lot of time on the golf course."
(Editing by Julian Linden)