PHIL MICKELSON banished all talk of deer antlers with a performance in Phoenix which, at the age of 42, he regards as the dawn of a sparkling new era in his career.
Mickelson's remarkable renaissance at TPC Scottsdale came days after he endured intense frustration among the also-rans at Torrey Pines in his hometown San Diego.
He attributes this stunning transformation to his new driver. "The direction of my whole year changed when I picked it up last Tuesday," he said. "We've identified what we needed to do to get me to make the same swing with my driver as my irons and hit it well.
"It's been in the works for months. To be able to make a driver that spins this low for me with this much loft has never been done. This Callaway Xtreme made it so easy to get it in the air, there wasn't any of the tilty stuff you've seen from me in the past.
"In 2004 I made a really big step in controlling the flight and spin with my irons and, after nine years, I feel I'm doing it better than ever.
"Now I'm able to make the same swing with my driver, I feel that's going to make a monumental difference in my game: potentially, I could play some of the best golf I've ever played," explained Mickelson, who defends his AT&T National title at Pebble Beach this week.
Vijay Singh withdrew from the Phoenix Open citing a back strain. Imagine the stick he'd have taken from the tanked-up thousands at 16 after admitting last week he'd used deer antler spray, unaware it supposedly contained a prohibited substance.
Singh, 50 this month, is entered for Pebble Beach as the US Tour ponders their next step.
Doubtless, his lawyers will point out there's no proof of IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth factor) in the Fijian's body or, for that matter, in a spray which isn't regulated by the US Food and Drugs Administration.