Still feeling rusty, Mickelson adds Bay Hill to his pre-Masters schedule

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Phil Mickelson found 14 bunkers in his Sunday 76 at Doral.
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PA Sport

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Published: Monday, March 14, 2011 | 6:05 p.m.

Phil Mickelson reacted to his worst finish in seven months by changing the build-up to his Masters title defense next month.

Mickelson, a lowly 55th out of 66 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, has added next week's Arnold Palmer Invitational to his schedule and may play the Shell Houston Open as well before heading to Augusta National.

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"I need a little bit more competitive golf. I've got some work to do," said the world No. 6, despite the fact that his seven events already this year are far more than his average.

"If I'd had a little more success earlier, I probably would have not played Bay Hill,” he explained. “I'm not shooting the scores I need to shoot. I'm not concerned with the way I'm hitting it or any particular element of my game, but I'm not shooting the scores."

Mickelson had not won for five months before he won his third Green Jacket last April, but a closing 76 at Doral on Sunday appeared real cause for concern given that he found an amazing 14 bunkers and hit only four of the 18 greens in regulation. With 32 out of 72 for the week in that category, he ranked 66th and last, while he tied for 58th in driving accuracy.

Not that Tiger Woods, whose Sunday 66 for 10th place was a huge boost to his confidence with the opening major of the season only three weeks away, can take comfort from his performance off the tee so far this year. With an average of 45 percent in fairways hit, Woods ranks 191st on the PGA Tour. Only Angel Cabrera is lower.

"Every tournament that I've played this year I've felt better coming out of it -- even though the results have not been good," he said. "I hit a lot of good golf shots and when I did mishit one I knew what the fix was right away. The driver is still not quite there, but I'm hitting it flush again, so that's just a matter of time before that comes around."

Woods hasn’t yet confirmed that he will also be at Bay Hill next week, and he has still prove he can produce the goods on a consistent basis.

In his first start of the season at Torrey Pines he opened 69-69 then went 74-75, and at the Dubai Desert Classic he followed a second round 66 with scores of 72 and 75.