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March 31 2013

5:00 PM

Mickelson has positive outlook

Phil Mickelson opened with four straight birdies but couldn't keep up on Sunday. (Halleran/Getty Images)

By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

HUMBLE Texas -- Phil Mickelson didn’t walk away with a second win at the Shell Houston Open Sunday afternoon, but he didn’t head home empty-handed.

Mickelson took his good friend and Dr. Tom Buchholz to overtime in a game of HORSE on the driveway Saturday night before winning their traditional grudge match. Buchholz, a world-class radiation oncologist who is part of both Amy and Mary Mickelson’s oncology team at M.D. Anderson, hosted Mickelson for a grilled salmon dinner and the game at his home.

“We both had S and that kicks it into double-elimination,’’ Mickelson explained. “That saved him three times and saved me once.

“I finally got him.”

For a while Sunday, it looked as though Mickelson might make a charge. He birdied the first four holes – he hit it to 2 feet at the first hole – but then cooled off. After eight pars, he finally got another birdie, but followed it with a bogey to finish at 10 under.

“I had a lot of fun today because I got off the a quick start, and after four holes I felt the pressure of having an opportunity to win,’’ said Mickelson, who won here in 2011. “It was a fun feeling. I love playing well here. Unfortunately, I didn't do much after that.

“I knew it was going to be a shootout and I was going to have to keep going and I couldn't keep pace. I hit a lot of good shots today. I had numerous putts that came off the edge. Even though I didn't make a lot of putts today, I felt good with the putter, was rolling off the face nice, had the right speed. It was on the right line that I wanted, but I didn't read them all correctly.’’

Mickelson continues to tinker with his putting stroke and said he’ll probably go back and forth a bit, depending on the situation.

“The claw grip, what it does is gets me in a better address position where I get rid of too much forward press,’’ he said.
“I want a little bit but not as much as I've been getting. As long as I can stay in that same address position with the regular grip, I would prefer to do that, but I'll have to go back and forth as my tendency is to continue to get a little too much forward press.  With the claw grip, my hands stay a little bit higher.’’

Mickelson was expected to fly home Sunday and plans to head to Augusta late in the week to get in some early practice for the Masters.

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