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Five things we learned from the Shell Houston Open

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Hunter Mahan / Getty Images

Let's be honest, we're all incredibly busy. Nobody has time to sit down and watch four rounds of televised golf coverage -- unless, of course, you watch TV for a living, and if that's the case, please email us your number. So in an effort to condense the tournament coverage for you into a few quick hits, here are five things we learned from the Shell Houston Open.

Hunter Mahan deserves our attention — It's funny how our outlook on Hunter Mahan's career has changed in the last couple of years. After questioning if the guy could handle pressure situations following a stubbed chip at the 2010 Ryder Cup and a winless 2011, Mahan has come out firing on all cylinders this year, winning the Accenture Match Play and then picking up another in the town of Humble, Texas at the Shell Houston Open. The name of the town seems fitting, because even though Mahan is currently the top ranked American in the world, he's done so without a lot of fanfare. But that could be changing following his second win of the season.

Phil Mickelson fails to produce another magical weekend — One year after he went 63-65 over the weekend at the Shell Houston Open, Phil Mickelson couldn't find the magic again this year, even though he appeared to be in rare form after opening with a 7-under 65. A cold putter played a big part, as he missed a number of key putts inside five feet, and three-putted from inside 20 feet on a par 5. There's a lot to like about Mickelson's game going into the Masters, but the lack of success with the putter on the weekend -- especially the short misses -- was a little troubling.

We can stop talking about Ernie Els' Masters chances — You want to talk about a story that was almost as played out as the "Will Tiger win" stories, the chatter about Ernie Els getting an invite to the Masters, or getting a spot via the OWGR top 50, was almost as bad. But after 18 consecutive years of teeing it up at Augusta National for the first major of the year, the streak came to an end on Sunday, as Els finished at 10-under for the week. Despite missing out on the Masters, Els now has four top-20 finishes in his last five starts. That kind of consistency is incredibly impressive -- especially considering how much golf he's played recently.

The Shell Houston Open gets it right once again — Tournament officials dread having to host an event the week prior to a major championship. But when that major happens to be the Masters, well, it's enough to make most tournament directors shrug their shoulders and concede defeat. But not Shell Houston Open. Officials continue to embrace the spot in the schedule, tweaking the conditions on Redstone's Champions Course to mimic the greens at Augusta. There's a reason why players consider the greens on the course to be some of the best on tour; they're cherry, and most players appreciate the work that goes into making that possible. When the big names show up the week before the first major of the year, you know you're doing something right.

We have another Bud Cauley sighting — I know we talked about him just last week following his T-4 at Bay Hill, but the kid backed up the big week with a T-8 at the Shell Houston Open, leading the field in greens in regulation. With two top 10 finishes in his last three starts, it appears Cauley's peaking at the right time. Nobody should be surprised if he picks up his first PGA Tour win later this year.

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