Mickelson cruises to Houston Open title

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 6:06 PM ET

Humble, TX – Phil Mickelson poured in five straight birdies Sunday en route to a seven-under 65 and a three-stroke win at the Houston Open.

Mickelson, who will defend his title at the Masters next week, pulled away from Scott Verplank on the back nine on the Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club. Mickelson finished at 20-under-par 268.

The 40-year-old Mickelson is the last player to win the week before the Masters, then pick up the green jacket at Augusta the following week. He won those back-to-back titles in 2006, when he earned his second Masters title.

Mickelson and Verplank shared the lead entering the final round, and by the back nine, it was a two-man race.

A costly three-putt bogey on the 14th dropped Verplank one-stroke back. Mickelson could have extended his last to three on the par-five 15th, but three-putted for par from 24 feet.

Mickelson, though, drained a five-foot birdie putt on the 16th, while Verplank struggled to a bogey. That gave Mickelson a three-stroke margin with two holes to play, and he parred in.

PGA Tour rookie Chris Kirk closed with a five-under 67 to share second place with Verplank, who shot 68 on Sunday, at minus-17.


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