by Jeff Skinner
Phil Mickelson looks to be in fine form for his cherished Masters. With his game at its season’s best he pulled away from his good friend, Scott Verplank and the rest of the field at the Shell Houston Open for a three stroke win and plenty of momentum going into Augusta.
Mickelson dazzled from the start with a chip in for birdie on the first but went on to bogey the next two holes. From that point on it was a birdie fest as he birdied eight of the next thirteen holes. He strung together five straight from nine through thirteen and when Verplank bogeyed fourteen and sixteen it was all over but the clapping.
Phil is hoping for a repeat of 2006 when he won the week before The Masters and he went on to capture his second Masters Championship. Except for a few wayward drives, his game was spectacular. He needed only 25 putts and his short game was dialed in. Mickelson seems to have found something in his game this week. He has not been at his best in his last few outings and was anxious to get it together before his favorite golf tournament. He has done just that. He has to be the big favorite at Augusta this week.
As usual Phil put his touch on this tournament. It’s his 39th PGA Tour win but this one meant a bit more than just a regular tour stop. After the win Phil presented the flag from the eighteenth hole to Dr. Tom Buchholz from the Anderson Cancer center in Houston. He is the oncologist that has been treating Amy Mickelson and Phil’s mom, Mary for breast cancer. Buchholz’s staff was out following Phil all week and Phil showed his appreciation for all their dedicated work. His wife and mom are doing well and Phil has been very public in his praise for the care they have received at the hospital in Houston. They feel the same way about him. “Houston has become a special place for Phil and Amy,” Buchholz said. “They’re two fantastic individuals, and it’s truly been a privilege to have become part of their lives. Tremendously meaningful to me, to be part of this story.”
It’s another fairy tale ending for Phil in Houston, but you can bet he’s looking for another fairy tale to come true on Sunday at The Masters.