Phil Mickelson's first start in nearly four months officially ended without a hint of rust.
Mickelson shot a final-round 68 at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth round of 68 or better in his first competitive action since the Presidents Cup. The score left him in a tie for third at 21 under, four shots out of a playoff won by Jason Dufner.
While he remains winless since the 2013 Open Championship, this marked Lefty's best result since a T-3 finish at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June.
"This week was the validation I was looking for," Mickelson said. "I just want to continue to get better as I go along. ... Hopefully, or I believe, I should get better and better as the days, weeks, years go on, because I'm back on plane and the touch should start to come back."
Mickelson was making his first start since switching coaches from Butch Harmon to Andrew Getson, and the offseason work he did with the Australian has already paid dividends after closing out a remarkably consistent week. Mickelson dropped only three shots in four rounds in Palm Springs, and he played his final 40 holes without a single bogey.
Mickelson traced the source of his success this week to his work with the driver.
"It felt very easy off the tee. It felt, from waist-high to waist-high, that it was almost on a track where it just went right on through," he said. "That was a completely different feel, and something I'm looking forward to continuing in the coming weeks."
This is only the beginning of a busy month for Mickelson, who is expected to remain active during the Tour's West Coast swing. He is in the field for next week's Farmers Insurance Open in his hometown of San Diego, and he has already committed to the Waste Management Phoenix Open and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am each of the two subsequent weeks.