Every week of the 2011 PGA Tour season, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group will conduct an e-mail roundtable. Check in on Mondays for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.
BIG WIN FOR PHIL, BUT HOW BIG?
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: What a difference a week can make. Phil Mickelson, whose play has been ho-hum for months, made a big statement by winning the Shell Houston Open on the eve of the season's first major. After tying the course record at Redstone with a 63 on Saturday, Phil shot a 65 on Sunday that included six birdies in a seven-hole stretch. As Mickelson tapped in to win, I couldn't help but think of 2006, when he ran away with the BellSouth Classic the week before winning the Masters. How important do you think the win was for Mickelson as he gets ready to defend his Masters title?
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I'm impressed. All we've been hearing is how he has been pointing his game toward Augusta. Couldn't have made a much better statement to back that up.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: Phil looked fantastic. The only thing he's got to guard against now is tiring himself out before the Masters even starts. I predict he'll play very few holes in the practice rounds, and most of those will be in the Par-3 Contest.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Phil's short game looks Augusta-ready. This is a game-changer for the Masters. It's all on Phil now.
Godich: Perhaps most impressive was that he shot seven under on Sunday with pars on two of the par-5s. He birdied three of the par-3s. That tells me he's dialed in.
Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: Definitely looked sharp. Loved it when Westy's caddie, Billy Foster, got on his knees and bowed to Phil after that ridiculous chip in on No. 6 yesterday.
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: It's very important. Mickelson is one of the few players with the ability to almost peak on command. He's going to be formidable in Augusta.
Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: It doesn't hurt. Phil had been saying he was getting close. He's got everyone's attention now.
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Phil was going to be among two or three favorites no matter what happened in Houston, but this was a strong opening statement. I've liked him to win this Masters since Sunday night a year ago. It's his to lose.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: Agree with Damon. Phil should be the odds-on favorite heading into Augusta.
Godich: And psychologically, it won't hurt that he has jumped ahead of you-know-who in the World Ranking.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It's HUGE. Phil was clearly looking for confidence by adding Bay Hill to his schedule. That didn't pan out. Houston did. He will almost surely contend at Augusta. You cannot win if you don't contend.
Van Sickle: Before we get too carried away, Phil seems to do his best work when we discount him -- like this week in Houston. When we expect him to be The Man, he usually disappoints. Phil is unpredictable. That's why he's so much fun to watch.
Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: A win is a win. So I think carrying those good vibes into Augusta can only be positive for his game.