Phil Mickelson played his first 13 holes in 4 under, but bogeyed four of the next five. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
After missing the cut at Bay Hill with his worst career score there -- a 79 -- Phil Mickelson went to work on his game with Butch Harmon and putting guru Dave Stockton.
Thursday in Houston, it looked like Mickelson righted the ship. Almost.
After playing his first 13 holes in 4 under, Mickelson played his last five in 4 over for a 72. (click here to replay his round)
"It was a disappointing finish," Mickelson said. "I kind of lost it there in the end, but the good thing is I know what it is I want to do. I'll just have to practice a little bit harder to get it ingrained here."
In terms of his swing, Mickelson said his struggles last week were attributable to a timing issue. In terms of the putter, it was about getting a softer touch on the greens.
"I'm looking forward to the next few rounds," Mickelson said. "The more I play, the more I practice, I'll come out (Friday) early and get a good practice session in. I think I'll get better as the week goes on."
This is Mickelson's last start before the Masters in two weeks -- the Shell Houston Open was moved up a week on the calendar this year and falls two weeks before the year's first major.
"I want to get a little bit of momentum," Mickelson said. "It's a very unusual situation here for me. I usually like the play the week before. I haven't taken a week off before the Masters in, I don't know, couple decades, I think, and the same thing with the U.S. Open.
"I'm going to have to learn how to do that, now that we're not really having tournaments conducive to getting ready for those events. This is a good opportunity for me to work on getting prepared properly in another spot outside of a tournament."