Phil Mickelson has set himself a target for the Masters, starting at Augusta on Thursday - and it is not just to win the first major of the season.

The 2004 champion, fresh from an amazing 13-stroke win at the BellSouth Classic on Sunday, wants his third major victory to be different to the first two. He wants it to be very much less stressful.

He said: "Now the goal is to improve my play and hopefully have a chance to walk up the 18th with a two-shot lead and be able to experience the joy of knowing you're going to win.

"I haven't had that, I've had to make a putt to win by one."

After 46 majors without a victory, the left-hander broke through at Augusta when he made an 18-footer for birdie to beat Ernie Els two years ago. Since he had finished third in each of the three previous Masters and had had 17 top ten finishes in all majors, the relief was palpable.

But Mickelson wanted it to be merely the first of "a bunch of majors" and he doubled his collection at the US PGA Championship last August, returning on the Monday morning and holding off Thomas Bjorn and Steve Elkington by chipping to two feet for another winning birdie.

A third win and his second green jacket would not just mean successive major triumphs for the 35-year-old, but also remind people of what Bjorn said about him at Baltusrol eight months ago.

"He's not a one-major guy - he's a ten-major guy," the Dane said. "He's going to go on now and contend for majors as he's always done, but it's going to be easier and easier for him to win them now and he deserves greatness."

Mickelson, for all the flak he received for his performance at the last Ryder Cup, can breathe more easily in the build-up to majors now that he has removed himself from the 'best player never to win one' category.

He said: "Certainly for a week or two before majors, questioning is a lot more enjoyable than it was.

"Winning the second one was big for me because it gave me not just the confidence but the belief that it wasn't just a one-time highlight; that I can do this more and more.

"That's what I'm striving to do and hopefully, if I can get that third win, somehow it will validate the way I'm preparing and my belief that I'm playing better golf."

The way he prepares is by making advance trips and spending hours and hours deciding the best way to play each hole.

Mickelson knows Augusta, of course, better than any other major venue. And since the last time he finished outside the top ten was 1998 - when he was 12th - his opinion on the controversial lengthening of six holes has to be worth listening to.

The vast majority of people believe the changes are playing into the hands of long-hitters like him but Mickelson said: "I think anybody can win. The reason I say that is the course is so long now that the long hitters used to be able to hit wedges into some of the pin placements and get it close.

"Now we're hitting mid-irons in, we can't get to those pins any more either. I think that it almost equalises it a little bit. I know people are saying it's a great advantage and it is, but we're playing for par just like everybody else.

"But it does favour my style of play - it's forgiving my mishitting a few tee shots and it allows the short game to be a big factor. The rough's not brutal like it is at the US Open and skill is involved, as opposed to luck."

In finishing 28 under par in Atlanta on Sunday, Mickelson established the third-biggest margin of victory on the US

PGA Tour in more than 50 years. He missed out on setting a record of 33 birdies in a tournament because he was too good - he got two eagles instead.

This is the third time in seven years he has arrived at Augusta off a win. He did not win a green jacket on the previous two occasions and the last player to make the Masters his second win in eight days was Scotland's Sandy Lyle in 1988.