Notes: Harrington's grip; Mickelson's feel; more

Phil Mickelson during Friday's second round of the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open.
Phil Mickelson during Friday's second round of the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open. ( Associated Press )

Friday, April 4, 2014

HUMBLE, Texas – Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington suffered problems with the middle finger of his left hand on the 15th tee of the Shell Houston Open second round and had trouble gripping the club. As the Irishman waited for medical personnel to arrive and treat him, the group behind played through.

Harrington made two bogeys and a closing triple bogey on the last three holes en route to missing the cut by four shots with 69-79.

“I couldn’t put any pressure on (the finger) and tighten it,” said Harrington, adding he felt no pain. “By the end of the round, I don’t think I was even gripping with that finger.”

Harrington said the medic on the tee stretched his finger, applied cream and gave him anti-inflammatory medication. “He did everything he could, but it needed time,” Harrington said.

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MICKELSON 'STARTING TO CLICK': Phil Mickelson hasn’t had a PGA Tour top-10 finish and last week withdrew during the Valero Texas Open with a pulled muscle in his side. On top of all that, his putting was off during the first 29 holes here.

But then he made a small adjustment to his setup on the 12th hole of his second round. The ball started rolling into the hole and Mickelson perked up for the weekend, with next week’s Masters also on his mind.

The lefthander made birdie putts of 21 and 13 feet at Nos. 12-13 and saved par from 5 feet at the last for 68-70—138, six shots behind midway leader Sergio Garcia.

“All of a sudden it’s starting to click,” Mickelson said of his putting. “It feels much better. I’m excited about the weekend . . . I can feel my game start to get sharp.”

Mickelson said his side feels fine as well. “I was really worried last Saturday,” he said. “I was really worried about not only playing here but next week, and now it feels great.”

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STRICKER CAUTIOUS BUT GOOD: Steve Stricker, the reluctant tourist playing his third PGA Tour event of the year, said he played “cautiously” the first two rounds because he has a new set of irons with different shafts.

“I don’t know what state my game is in while I’m out there,” he said.

It’s in good shape, the scoreboard says. Stricker is tied for seventh midway with 68-69, five shots off the lead.

Saturday is a big day for him, and not just because of golf. The Madison, Wis., resident and his family will fly via private airplane to the Dallas area after the third round to watch Wisconsin in NCAA Final Four basketball tournament. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.