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Phil Mickelson looking to peak at Winged Foot

U.S. Masters champion Phil Mickelson is excited about his new-found ability to peak at the biggest events, regardless of his form in the build-up.

The American left-hander won his second major title last year at the U.S. PGA Championship at Baltusrol despite achieving just one top-10 finish in his previous six PGA Tour starts.

He clinched his second U.S. Masters crown last month, a week after winning his first tournament of the season by a remarkable 13 strokes at the BellSouth Classic.

"I feel a great sense of accomplishment, and now I want to start to prepare for the U.S. Open," Mickelson told reporters on Wednesday, the last day of practice for this week's Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"What I'm excited about is that when I prepared for Baltusrol, even after having not played well, I felt I was able to get my best game out.

"Then the start of this year wasn't anything spectacular," the 35-year-old added of a run featuring a tie for fifth as his best result in seven tournaments.

"I played okay and was in contention but didn't win. It wasn't until Atlanta (for the BellSouth Classic) it started to click. I played well at Atlanta and the Masters."

Early last week, the world number two visited Winged Foot, venue for the June 15-18 U.S. Open, to establish his strategy for the second major of the year.

"I got some good work done last week, and mapped out kind of a game plan for how I want to play there," Mickelson said.

"The course is not in the condition that it will be for the Open. The rough isn't where it will be and the greens weren't as firm as they'll be.

"So I didn't really prepare or hit the shots that I would hit for the U.S. Open, but I mapped out kind of the strategy.

"All I want to try to do is get my best game out for the U.S. Open and have a chance on the weekend. I feel I'm well prepared to play the course properly on the weekend when the course is hard, fast and tough and give myself the best chance.

"The last thing I'm thinking about is trying to win, even trying to win just one tournament. I'm just trying to get myself in contention."

This week, Mickelson is among eight of the world's top 10 players competing at Quail Hollow Club in an event he rates as one of the best on Tour.

"I love this tournament," he said. "It is very well done, and it's fun to come play here.

"This is only the fourth year of this tournament's existence, and it is amazing how it has quickly become the number one PGA Tour event, the best-run event, the best field outside of the four majors and the Players (Championship)."

The three-times major winner expects a gruelling test on a 7,442-yard layout that ranked as the seventh most difficult on the 2005 PGA Tour.

"It's a very tough course this year," he said. "It's a lot tougher than the first two years I played here because the fairways are firmer and the rough is up. If you find the rough, the ball is sitting down.

"It's playing very similar to the way a (U.S.) PGA (Championship) is set up. It's a fair golf course but it's extremely tough."



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