Phil Mickelson unsure about playing in front of fans at Houston Open

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Phil Mickelson is a staple at the Houston Open. For years, he used the pre-Masters stop to prepare for Augusta National, and with three green jackets in his closet, it’s proven to be a successful routine.

However, that might change this year.

One of the few constants in a COVID-19 world is that the Houston Open, which moved to the fall last year, will again be played the week before the Masters, which was pushed back seven months because of the pandemic. Mickelson is also scheduled to play his traditional tune-up, although he may reconsider after officials in Houston announced last week their plan to allow a limited number of fans on property each day.

“For me personally, I don’t like the risk that having that happen the week before the Masters. I just feel like the week before the Masters, like that’s a big tournament we have and I just don’t want to have any risk heading in there,” Mickelson said Wednesday at the Zozo Championship. “It has made me question whether or not I’ll play there.”

The Houston Open will allow 2,000 fans per day on the course during tournament rounds. Next week’s Bermuda Championship is also scheduled to have an undisclosed number of fans on site, the first time fans will be permitted to attend PGA Tour events since The Players Championship in March.

Mickelson applauded the Tour’s efforts since the restart in June, saying he was confident in the circuit’s safety protocols. But he was still concerned with the year’s final major looming and said he would consider playing the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix instead of Houston.

“If Phoenix does not have people, I’ll probably go there, to be honest. If they’re both going to have galleries, I’ll probably go to the Houston Open,” he said.