Mickelson returns to Texas Open

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iol spt mar27 Mickelson AP Phil Mickelson. Photo: Lynne Sladky

San Antonio – Two-time winner Zach Johnson and five-time major winner Phil Mickelson headline the field for the Texas Open which is one of the final tune-ups before the 2014 Masters tournament.

Mickelson is returning for the first time in 22 years to the event which kicks off the PGA Tour's first of two tournaments in Texas ahead of the Masters which begins April 10.

World number five Mickelson is seeking his first top 10 finish in seven tournaments this season.

“I haven't had the success I've wanted to early on this season, and I want to get in contention,” said Mickelson, who finished 47th the last time he played this event. “I want to have competitive rounds and work on playing proper golf and managing the game and the rounds. This is a great opportunity to build some momentum going into Augusta.”

The strong field also includes both of this season's multiple winners, three-time winner Jimmy Walker and two-time champ Patrick Reed.

Also teeing it up are American Matt Kuchar, Ernie Els, of South Africa, Canada's Mike Weir, Ireland's Padraig Harrington and Aussies Aaron Baddeley, Robert Allenby and John Senden.

Martin Laird fired a nine-under 63 in the final round last year to come from behind and win the event.

His 63 matched the course record and it marked his third title on the USPGA Tour. With the victory, Laird also earned a spot in the Masters, where he missed the cut by a shot.

Laird will tee off Thursday in a threesome that also include Mickelson and Texas native Jordan Spieth.

Senden, Johnson and Jim Furyk are in another marquee group. This is Johnson's first appearance at this event in four years and Furyk finished in third in 2013.

Els is grouped with Walker and Justin Leonard.

The Tour heads to the Houston Open next week which serves as the final event before the players head to Augusta. DA Points closed with a 66 last year to rally and win the title by one over Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel. – Sapa-AFP


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