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"My game this year hasn't been what I expected," said Mickelson, who tied for 30th at Bay Hill. "I keep saying it doesn't feel far off. I haven't put together the scores, and I think this week in Houston is an important week for me because I feel like my game has been pretty close."
The players are once again raving about the condition of The Tournament Course at Redstone. Organizers have lured another top-notch field by spreading the word that the course is set up to simulate the conditions at Augusta National, from the fast greens and runoff areas to the light rough and the fairways mowed toward the tee.
The Houston Open moved to the week before the Masters in 2007.
"I think it's an advantage for the players who play here going into next week," Mickelson said. "The ball will react certain ways out of the first cut of rough and fairway, getting adjusted to the speed of the greens -- all that goes into preparation for next week."
Inclement weather has become an annual intrusion at the tournament, and thunderstorms are possible on Friday and Saturday this year.
The event has been delayed by bad weather every year since 2006, when it moved to the Tournament Course from the adjacent members' course at Redstone. Last year, rain pushed back the start of the tournament by 2 1/2 hours, and high winds forced the suspension of play later on Thursday.
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