Mickelson fires timely Masters warning

Published 05/04/2011 11:53:53

Phil Mickelson's impressive win at the Shell Houston Open has made everyone sit up and take notice ahead of the Masters. There was a strong feeling that the reigning champion would arrive at Augusta in insufficient form to mount a serious title defence, but he put poor 2011 form behind him to storm to a three-shot victory in Texas.

The six-time major winner does not need to be in good form to prosper at Augusta - he won last year without a tour victory in the preceding six months - as he has the game, experience and touch of magic that is needed in the Masters. It is hard to imagine any other player producing the audacious shots Mickelson did in the final round last year to overhaul Lee Westwood and the Masters golf odds suggest he must be in with a shout again.

Nonetheless, Mickelson did seem to be genuinely struggling in 2011, a realisation he came to himself in adding extra tournaments to his Masters preparation. This paid off handsomely in Houston and he will tee off next weekend with confidence restored. The 76 he carded in the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship that produced his worst finish in seven months is long forgotten.

Mickelson has the added bonus of starting the Masters higher ranked than Tiger Woods for the first time since 1997, which will only improve his state of mind at the course he likes best. There are plenty of serious contenders for the green jacket, but with Mickelson back in the groove they now know it will be a little bit harder to go all the way.


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