Phil Mickelson on Houston Open allowing fans: ‘I don’t like the risk … before the Masters’

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Phil Mickelson has long had the Vivant Houston Open on his calendar as his final tune-up for the Masters.

Now he might head to Phoenix instead.

Mickelson said Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s start of the Zozo Championship at Sherwood that plans by the Vivant Houston Open at Memorial Park to allow 2,000 fans on-site per day has given him pause. While he commended the PGA Tour’s efforts to provide safe environments for play to continue during the COVID-19 global pandemic, the addition of fans might not be worth the risk of playing, Mickelson said.

“I think that they will do a very good, safe job in having 2,000 people at the Houston Open. However, for me personally, I don’t like the risk that having that happen the week before the Masters,” Mickelson said. “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.

“So it has made me question whether or not I’ll play there. But then I have to give the Tour a lot of credit and confidence in the way that they’ve handled the entire year and I’m sure they’re going to do a great job at keeping the players safe in that environment. But because I haven’t seen it before, because it’s the first one out on the Tour with some people, I’m unsure and I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. I don’t go out to dinner; I don’t go out and socialize because I want to make sure that I have an opportunity to compete in the Masters.”

If the three-time Masters champion decides not to play Houston, he will head to Arizona for the PGA Tour Champions’ Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Phoenix Country Club. That is if that tournament doesn’t allow fans.

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

This week he’s at Sherwood Country Club, home to the relocated Zozo Championship. Last week, Mickelson, 50, won the PGA Tour Champions’ Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Virginia. It was his second win in as many starts on the senior circuit.

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