USA, April,4-2011:Phil Mickelson knows how it feels to be ready for The Masters and after victory in Houston he is in that happy place.
Three times Mickelson has landed the green jacket at Augusta, in 2004, 2006 and 2010, and he returns this week to defend his title on the back of triumphing at the Shell Houston Open.
Mickelson climbed to number three in the world on Sunday night – going ahead of long-time rival Tiger Woods for the first time since the 1997 Masters – after winning by three shots from fellow Americans Chris Kirk and Scott Verplank.
The 40-year-old was reminded by his victory of his 2006 Masters success, which followed a win the previous week at the BellSouth Classic in Atlanta.
“It feels really good for me to have played well and to gain some momentum,” Mickelson said.
“It feels a lot like ’06 in that I needed to have a week where I kind of put it together.
“By that I mean, I’ve been saying all year I’m playing well but I’m not getting the scores out of it, and I’m having just kind of a lapse of focus.
“And it was even evident today on a couple shots, a basic easy chip shot on eight that I flubbed and three-putting 15. Those little types of lack of concentration.
“I’ve got to continue to work on that. Although all in all, this was one of the best weeks I’ve had in a long time as far as seeing the shot and being able to hit it.
“So, it was a great week in that regard and great for getting momentum.”
Mickelson finished in style with a closing 65, which included a streak of five birdies from the ninth, for a 20-under-par 268 aggregate.
Kirk signed for a 67 to earn his first top-two finish on the PGA Tour, and Verplank had a 68.
Ireland’s Padraig Harrington completed a solid week with a 70, for joint eighth place on 11 under.
Further down the field, England’s Lee Westwood had an eagle-three at the eighth but finished with a dropped shot for a 68. He needed a top-two finish to go back to number one in the world, but tied for 30th.
Mickelson now heads to Augusta, but actually visited the club before his Houston mission, and admitted it provided him with impetus for the tournament.
“It re-energises me every time I go there,” Mickelson said.
“I get excited with the game and fall in love with the game again and again. It reminds me how much I dreamt as a kid of playing there, of competing and winning majors and winning golf tournaments.