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Mickelson looks for putting to click into place at Doral

Written by: Staff

MIAMI, Mar 2 (Reuters) Phil Mickelson, chasing his first victory of the season, needs only one component of his game to slot into place at this week's Doral Championship.

The world number five believes he is close to his best form after producing four top-10 finishes in his first five PGA Tour starts of the year, despite a lukewarm putter.

''The missing factor is I've putted very poorly, and I've got to get the ball rolling in the hole better,'' Mickelson told reporters yesterday as he prepared for today's first round at the Doral Resort and Spa.

''I've hit some good shots and played well in a lot of tournaments but I haven't been making the four or five-footers, or the 15 and 20-footers, that I've been making the last couple of years.

''I don't recall like it's that far off,'' added the left-hander, who has spent the last two days working on his putting set-up with his coach.

''The work we've been doing seemed to help on the back nine today. I'm hoping that solves it because I feel like that's the last key.

''In the past, I have not putted well on these Bermuda greens. But, as I've played out here more and more and listened to my caddie, who grew up playing Bermuda greens, I'm feeling much comfortable on these surfaces.

''I'm seeing the line and the break and how the grain influences so much better. Last year I putted very well. I should hopefully have a good week this week doing the same.'' MIXED FEELINGS Mickelson, who won the second major of his career at the US PGA Championship last August, has mixed feelings on returning to Doral this week.

He led last year's tournament by two shots going into the final round before being overhauled by Tiger Woods in a high-quality last-day duel.

Both players made 27 birdies over the four rounds, Woods securing the last of them by sinking a 30-foot putt at the 17th on his way to a six-under-par 66 and a one-stroke victory.

Mickelson had a chance to force a playoff with a birdie at the last, but lipped out with a 30-foot chip from just off the edge of the green.

''It was certainly disappointing when it caught the lip and didn't go in,'' he recalled. ''I would have loved to have forced a playoff and extended the day a little bit longer.

''Unfortunately they have the video running on one of the channels here at the hotel, so I get to see it (the missed chip) every night.

''Every time I look at it, with three or four feet to go, it just looks like it's going to go right in the middle and just somehow snaps off at the end. I keep waiting for the video to change, but it never does.'' REUTERS DH RAI0748

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