The Loop

Mickelson's Masters prep at odds with courses

March 26, 2011

ORLANDO, Fla. - Not many golfers would go to a PGA Tour event ignoring the strategic value of the golf course and the shots required to navigate it. Most golfers aren't Phil Mickelson.

The reigning Masters champion is in prime preparation mode for his title defense at Augusta National GC, and after the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Mickelson will tee it up in next week's Shell Houston Open at Redstone GC.

It's not that he won't try to win the tournament. He'll just attempt to do it hitting some shots he wouldn't normally try to hit in a given situation.

"Houston is not going to set up well for me," Mickelson said Saturday after a 3-under-par 69 at Bay Hill Club. "The way the course is set up, you can't hit it more than 285-290 off a lot of the tees. It's not going to be a course where I'm going to play the most strategic and expect to really score well."

The Tournament Course at Redstone is a big ballpark, 7,457 yards, par 72. It would seem a good venue for Mickelson's high-ball power game - if the wind doesn't blow. But many fairways aren't as open as he'd like at the 300-yard mark. Mickelson finished T-35 there a year ago.

"The problem for me there is there is so much water that pinches off the tee, and I'm just not going to hit 3-woods off the tee and play that course strategically the week before Augusta," Mickelson said. "And then when it gets windy and I'm trying to hit high balls for Augusta and it requires a low knock-down shot, it's not going to work.

"If we get weather like this (sunny and light breezes) I may very well play well there," he added. "I just want to get progressively better each day in the Houston Open and kind of build a little momentum going into Augusta and not worry too much about results."

-- Dave Shedloski