IRVING — Phil Mickelson has returned to the HP Byron Nelson Championship after a long absence.
"It was more a scheduling thing for me," Mickelson said after a Wednesday Pro-Am. "It was just kind of awkward. There were just a lot of tournaments that I was trying to play. I just couldn't get them all done and didn't want to tire myself out too much before the U.S. Open."
Mickelson said it worked out this year because the U.S. Open is still four weeks away, although he's scheduled to miss the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial next week.
Mickelson has played in HP Byron Nelson Championship 13 times, but he hasn't been here since 2007. That's a five-year absence, and fans are happy that he's back.
"I missed him," said one.
"Everybody loves Phil," said another.
Texas football coach Mack Brown and Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes were on Mickelson's Pro-Am team, but they couldn't get the Arizona State graduate to wear a Texas hat.
"No, but we gave him one," Barnes said. "We gave both he and Bones [Mickelson's caddie] one, so they've got them."
Barnes thinks having Mickelson back in town helps make the tournament successful. "Oh I think so, just because he's such a gentlemen. He is what golf is all about," Barnes said.
"Phil is one of the more fun guys on the tour, and he's a great guy to play with," Brown added. "What you see is what you get with Phil. That's something I always appreciate about him and enjoy."
Since he last appeared at the Byron Nelson, Mickelson picked up his third green jacket at the Masters, and last week — at the age of 41 — he was inducted in the World Golf Hall of fame.
"Since I was a kid and picked up my first golf club, I’ve been living my dream, and I want to thank you for this great honor," Mickelson told the crowd at the Hall of Fame. "To be in there with the other 140 members and all the things they've done to the game of golf, it’s very special to be in that group."
Mickelson said he learned valuable lessons from the late Byron Nelson, including what a true professional is and how you should act.