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Mickelson sees T-17 finish at SHO as 'stepping stone'

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HUMBLE, Texas – Phil Mickelson failed to capitalize on a strong start at the Shell Houston Open, but he sees signs of progress heading into the Masters.

Mickelson closed with a 1-under 71 to finish T-17 at the Golf Club of Houston. The result comes on the heels of a T-30 finish at the Valero Texas Open, where he also was in the mix at the halfway point before fading.

“I was able to stay focused for the most part over 72 holes, maybe 63 of them I did pretty well,” Mickelson said. “It was a good stepping stone.”

Mickelson was one shot off the lead after 36 holes, but a third-round 75 essentially ended his title hopes. It’s the third time this season that he has started the weekend inside the top 10, but he still remains in search of his first top-10 finish. He also tied for 17th at the Honda Classic.

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“I wanted to come away with a victory, but certainly more of an opportunity in today’s final round,” he said. “I felt good and got some momentum. Good foundation on what to work on over the next three days to get sharp for Thursday.”

As Mickelson heads to Augusta National in search of his fourth green jacket, he remains confident in his short game but will look to work on his accuracy after finding just 18 of 36 greens in regulation this weekend.

“My putting feels as good as it’s been,” said Mickelson, who had 24 putts in the final round. “My short-iron distance control is really close to being sharp. I need a slight adjustment.”