LOS ANGELES -- Phil Mickelson makes no secret that he is trying to gear his game for a Masters defense in a little more than six weeks. And he admits that he is itching to win a tournament.
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesPhil Mickelson plans to get in a few practice rounds at Augusta in late March to prepare for his title defense.
Mickelson didn't come close Sunday at the Northern Trust Open, where he shot his lowest round of the week, a 3-under-par 68 that left him well out of contention while playing on the other side of the draw.
"I feel better about my game right now than I ever have with one exception; I would like to win," Mickelson said. "There's something to be said about winning a tournament, getting some confidence, being in contention on Sunday and coming out on top that is nice going into Augusta -- although I didn't do that last year and was able to win it.
"It's that last little hump of winning a tournament and being in contention and finishing it off that I'd like to do before then."
Mickelson is in the midst of a busy stretch in which he is playing six consecutive tournaments; the first was in Abu Dhabi and the next will be this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Other than a second-place finish at Torrey Pines to Bubba Watson, Mickelson has not contended in any of the events.
Since winning the Masters, Mickelson has played 20 times around the world, with just six top-10s and two runner-up finishes.
"I feel really good about where I'm at with the physical aspect of the game," he said. "Body feels good, swing feels good, putting is good. But I have to put it all together. I haven't won since the Masters last year and it's really that last little piece.
"I'm really looking forward to the Match Play," said Mickelson, who is scheduled to take on Australia's Brendan Jones on Wednesday in the first round. "It provides ... every match is a Sunday of a tournament and you're tied for the lead starting out. I feel like that may help me get over the hump."
Mickelson said part of his preparation for the Masters will involve heading to Augusta National early in the upcoming tournament weeks.
"I'll be there the week of Doral, in two weeks," Mickelson said. "Then I'll be there before the Houston Open."
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.