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Mickelson in fine fettle ahead of Masters with Houston triumph

Phil Mickelson was 16-under-par for his final two rounds at the Redstone Country Club to win the Houston Open.
Phil Mickelson was 16-under-par for his final two rounds at the Redstone Country Club to win the Houston Open.
  • Phil Mickelson claims brilliant victory in Houston Open on PGA Tour
  • Mickelson cards a seven-under 65 to win by three shots in Texas
  • He shoots nine birdies in final round to pull clear of the field
  • Mickelson defends Masters crown at Augusta later this week

(CNN) -- Phil Mickelson was back to his sparkling best ahead of his Masters title defense as he surged to a three-shot victory in the Houston Open Sunday.

The left-handed maestro carded a seven-under 65 for a four-round total of 20-under 268 to secure his first PGA Tour win of the year.

With the first major of the year at Augusta starting Thursday, Mickelson gave a timely reminder of his incredible talents as he pulled clear of his rivals on the back nine of the Redstone Country Club.

The American carded four straight birdies from the turn and another at the 16th to move him clear of Ryder Cup teammate Scott Verplank, who had shared the lead with him at the start of the day.

Verplank led through the front nine by a shot, but he wilted in the face of playing partner Mickelson's onslaught and two bogeys coming home left him in a tie for second with impressive newcomer Chris Kirk.

Mickelson charged into contention with a nine-under 63 in the third round to tie the course record and started his final round with a further birdie.

A pair of bogeys at the second and third halted his momentum, but on a course set up similar to Augusta, he showed his liking for conditions with two further birdies to the turn to stay in touch with Verplank.

On the European Tour, David Horsey beat defending champion Rhys Davies and Jaco Van Zyl at the second hole of a three-man play-off to win the Hassan Trophy in Morocco.

It was the Englishman's second Tour title and came after a hole-in-one at the second in is final round.

But he ran up a double bogey on the final hole, giving Welshman Davies a four-foot putt to win, which he missed. It also allowed South African Van Zyl into the playoff in Agadir.