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  • Mickelson feels healthy in first-round 68 at Shell

  • Phil Mickelson made a stop at Augusta National before arriving at the Shell Houston Open, where he shot 68 on Thursday. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Phil Mickelson made a stop at Augusta National before arriving at the Shell Houston Open, where he shot 68 on Thursday. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

HUMBLE, Texas -- Phil Mickelson wondered whether he'd be able to play the Masters after pulling a muscle in the third round of last week's Valero Texas Open. Those concerns are gone after a first-round 68 on Thursday at the Shell Houston Open.

"I feel a lot better," Mickelson said. "I travel with a light therapy machine, and I got on it right away, and I think that made a world of difference as far as expediting the healing process to where it doesn't hurt anymore. It just feels sore like I was working out, as opposed to kind of a painful experience."

Mickelson did occasionally twist his torso between shots as if he was trying to stretch his back.

He was bogey-free at the Golf Club of Houston, as were the two players who competed alongside him, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley. Bradley shot 66, and was tied for the lead after Thursday's morning wave, while Simpson matched Mickelson's 68.

"It was the first time I remember that happening, certainly in my career," Mickelson said. When Matt Kuchar, who shot 66 on Thursday, heard about the accomplishment, he joked, "That's the first time Phil has had no bogies in his career. That's why."

Mickelson spent Tuesday and Wednesday at Augusta National as he prepares for next week's Masters. He said he hit mostly iron shots Tuesday and played nine holes the next day.

"I was able to spend more time with short irons, chipping, putting as opposed to driving the ball, but even that was pretty good today," Mickelson said. "I hit the ball well off the tee and didn't miss very many fairways."

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