By Tim Wharnsby
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - As he prepared for his 24th start, three-times Masters champion Phil Mickelson wished the injured Tiger Woods well, but also delivered a message for those such as his former nemesis who have been hindered by golf injuries.
As Woods rehabilitates after major back surgery that has kept him out of action since last August, Mickelson is still going strong, relatively injury-free at the age of 45.
He has a free-flowing if deceptively powerful swing, and is also one of the greatest short-game exponents of his generation, if not ever.
"A lot of the young guys continue to get hurt as they create this violent connected movement, and I don't believe that that's the proper way to swing the golf club,” Mickelson told reporters on Tuesday.
"I think you want to use leverage and kind of quiet your body down so the arc and clubhead can swing and accelerate.
"The better I play and the more successful I am at an older age, that message will get through and hopefully kids will start to play golf and swing the club with less of a violent body movement and be able to play golf for a lifetime."
Mickelson’s new outlook derives from work with his new swing coach, Andrew Getson, who replaced Butch Harmon last November. His new instructor believes in the "swing the clubhead" method taught by the late Ernest Jones.
Although Mickelson has not won since the 2013 British Open, he has been pleased with his three top-five finishes in eight PGA Tour events this year.
He sees no reason why he cannot become the second oldest winner in Masters history. He is little more than two months shy of his 46th birthday, while Jack Nicklaus, who was two months past his 46th birthday when he won the 1986 Masters, is the oldest champion.
"I don't feel old at all. I feel great. I guess maybe you hang around these young guys as much as I have been, you just feel young," said Mickelson, who played his Tuesday practice round with Dustin Johnson, 31, Keegan Bradley, 29, and 22-year-old amateur Bryson DeChambeau.
(Editing by Andrew Both)