What was supposed to be nothing more than a preparation tournament for the season’s first major has turned into a big triumph and confident booster as Phil Mickelson has won the 2011 Shell Houston Open, beating veteran Scott Verplank and rookie Chris Kirk with a tournament record of 20 under par. It was Mickelson’s first win since turning 40 earlier this year and his first on the PGA Tour in almost a year (his last win came at the 2010 U.S. Masters).
Prior to the tournament Mickelson had stated that the tournament course at Restone Golf Club was too short for him. Fairways at Redstone Country Club narrow after approximately 285 yards, limiting power players like Mickelson to a 3-wood off the tee. Phil said he will play shots that might not make a lot of sense, all to get ready for Augusta National:
“It’s not going to be a course where I’m going to play the most strategic and expect to really score well,” he said. “I’m just not going to hit 3-woods off the tee and play that course strategically the week before Augusta. And then when it gets windy and I’m trying to hit high balls for Augusta, and it requires a low, knockdown shot … it’s not going to work.”
Well, it worked out just fine.
Phil was three over par after seven holes of his first round (he made bogey on his second and double-bogey on his seventh) but came storming back with a score of 23 under par over the next 65 holes. His weekend play was extremely impressive: On Saturday he was bogey-free and carded nine birdies to tie the course record with a 63. On Sunday he was in trouble early after two wild drives led to bogeys on hole two and three. Once again Phil managed to turn it around perfectly with powerful drives, accurate iron play and razor-sharp putting as he scored eight birdies over the next 15 holes that included five consecutive birdies from hole nine to thirteen.
Here are Phil’s scorecards for rounds three and four (in case you are wondering: the red figures are all birdies…):
And of course in typical Phil Mickelson fashion it wasn’t just his 39th career PGA Tour victory. Here is what happened with Phil BESIDES winning the tournament:
Phil is now #3 in the World (of course that’s not including that he’s always #1 with us), now just behind Martin Kaymer #1, and Lee Westwood #2.
Phil has FINALLY (and most deservingly) surpassed Tiger Woods (#7) in the World Gold Rankings for the first time since 1997 - the week before the Masters.
Phil tied the course record with a 63 on Saturday: He did the same thing at the Bell South Classic in 2006. He also did win that tournament and went on the very next week to win his 2nd Masters tournament.
This was Phil’s first win after turning the ripe old age of 40 last June.
Phil has had at least one win per year in the last eight years – the longest active streak by anyone so far.
Phil had 27 birdies this week - his all-time record is 31 in the 2006 Bell South Classic.
If Phil Mickelson wins again at Augusta National next week he will be the first player to do so in a very long time.
Please use the comment function to congratulate Phil on this great victory and to let us know how you feel about his chances for next week’s U.S. masters.