Mickelson among leaders at Houston Open

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 3, 2014 at 7:42 pm •  Published: April 3, 2014
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HUMBLE, Texas (AP) — Phil Mickelson did more than prove to just himself that he's ready for next week's Masters on Thursday.

The five-time major winner showed to everyone that he's fully recovered from last week's muscle pull and likely to be a factor in this week's Houston Open as well.

Without so much as a practice round this week at the 7,441-yard Golf Club of Houston, Mickelson opened with a 4-under par 68 and was among the leaders following Thursday's opening round.

The bogey-free performance was a far cry from last week when Mickelson was forced to withdraw during the third round in San Antonio after pulling a muscle in his right side

"I'm surprised because I was worried about the Masters," Mickelson said. "I was certainly worried about Houston, but it healed a lot quicker. I felt great today; didn't feel any pain or discomfort and didn't even think about it."

Mickelson is three shots back of first-round co-leaders Bill Haas and Charley Hoffman, both who finished at 7 under. Hass had five birdies on his back nine, while Hoffman needed just 27 putts to earn a share of the lead.

Keegan Bradley and Matt Kuchar lead a group of five golfers at 6 under. J.B. Holmes, Erik Compton and Jim Renner are also at 6 under, with 10 golfers are at 5 under.

Of the 144 players in the field, 113 finished at even par or under on an overcast and occasionally misty day.

"The greens are absolutely perfect," Haas said. "... I think the scores are reflective on that. They were a little slower, but part of that, too, is the weather. It was like a little dewy mist out there all day, which played a part in the speed of the greens."

Mickelson and Bradley were part of a threesome with Webb Simpson, who also finished 4 under. All three players in the group navigated the course without a bogey in their morning rounds.

Former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, playing in the afternoon and one of the five top-10 players in the world in the tournament, finished with a 2-under 70.

While Haas and Hoffman shared the lead after Thursday's play, it was Mickelson — who was forced to withdraw during last week's third round in San Antonio after pulling a muscle in his right side — who was the center of attention leading into next week at Augusta National.

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