Lefty storms back when it counts

Phil Mickelson has hoisted himself back to No 3 in the World ahead of the Masters by winning the Shell Houston Open in style.

Phil Mickelson has hoisted himself back to No 3 in the World ahead of the Masters by winning the Shell Houston Open in style.
The World’s best left-hander moved past Tiger Woods in the rankings for the first time since the 1997 Masters when he closed with a superb 65 at the Redstone Golf Club on Sunday that took him to 20-under and earned him a warmly-welcomed three-shot victory over fellow Americans Chris Kirk and Scott Verplank that had his face wreathed in smiles all the way up the 18th fairway
Perhaps even more important than the 40-year-old’s victory and the upward mobility it earned him in the rankings, though, was the fact that it put him back in same sort of happy place he was in before he won the second of his three Masters titles in 2006.
This was at the BellSouth Classic
“It feels really good for me to have played well and to gain some momentum,” said Mickelson, who also won Green Jackets in 2004 and 2010.
“It feels a lot like ’06 in that I needed to have a week where I kind of put it together.
“By that I mean, I’ve been saying all year I’m playing well but I’m not getting the scores out of it, and I’m having just kind of a lapse of focus.
“And it was even evident today on a couple shots, a basic easy chip shot on eight that I flubbed and three-putting 15. Those little types of lack of concentration.
“I’ve got to continue to work on that. Although all in all, this was one of the best weeks I’ve had in a long time as far as seeing the shot and being able to hit it.
“So, it was a great week in that regard and great for getting momentum.”
Mickelson finished in style, his final round including a streak of five birdies from the ninth, that seemed to slow and finally deflate his chasing opponents.
Kirk shot a 67 to earn his first top-two finish on the PGA Tour, and Verplank a 68.
Ireland’s Padraig Harrington completed a solid week with a 70, for joint eighth place on 11 under.
Further down the field, England’s Lee Westwood had an eagle-three at the eighth but finished with a dropped shot for a 68. He needed a top-two finish to go back to number one in the world, but tied for 30th.
Mickelson, who welcomed the fact that Redstone had been prepared in such a way as to make it’s playing conditions as close as possible to Augusta, actually visited the home of the Masters before playing in Houston and admitted that it had provided him with impetus for last week’s tournament.
“It re-energises me every time I go there,” Mickelson said of a course that has just been voted the best in America for the third time.
“I get excited with the game and fall in love with it again and again. It reminds me how much I dreamt as a kid of playing there, of competing and winning majors and winning golf tournaments.”