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The house that Phil built: Mickelson’s masterpiece

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By Pete Pappas

GolfWRX Staff Writer

Pebble Beach Golf Links the house that Phil built?  It sure is beginning to look that way

With a historically dominating performance on Sunday, Phil Mickelson won the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the fourth time in his career, and in the 75-year history of the event, only five-time winner Mark O’Meara has won more times.

The awe-inspiring win was Lefty’s 40th career PGA Tour victory, leaping him over World Golf Hall of Fame member Tom Watson like one of his patented flop shots, and into ninth place on the all-time PGA Tour wins list.

Anyone who thought it was time to stick a fork in Mickelson’s career before this tournament began might want to consider putting that fork away.

Better yet, just throw the fork away.

Mickelson finished 17-under par, and shot a low round 8-under 64 on Sunday, hitting a near perfect 13 of 14 fairways, and needing only 26 putts en route to erasing leader Charlie Wi’s six-stroke lead when the day began.

“Being able to play the way I did these last 18 holes really means a lot,” said Mickelson.  “It feels awesome.”

Wi finished in second place (15-under) two shots behind Mickelson, largely on the strength of three consecutive birdies at No. 16, No. 17, and No. 18.  But a double-bogey on No.1, and bogeys on No. 5 and No. 6, dropped Wi out of contention from the start.

The highly anticipated head-to-head duel between Mickelson and Tiger Woods, paired for just the 10th time in their careers on the final day, turned out to be more lopsided than anyone could have imagined.  Mickelson finished a whopping 11 strokes better than Tiger on Sunday, and improved his final round record against Woods to 6-3-1, winning the last five times the two have met.

Or as Phil’s wife Amy beamed, behind the 18th green as she hugged him, “Are you kidding me?”

It’s been said in the media, and candidly admitted by Mickelson, that Phil needs Tiger around to play his best.  And unfortunately for Woods, Mickelson’s juggernaut masterpiece on Sunday at Pebble just might be compelling testimony that it’s true.

Mickelson’s thumping of Woods began early, right out of the box at No. 1.  With birdies on No. 2, No. 4, and No. 5, Phil was a maestro with his flat stick, sinking putts of all distances, in all situations, seemingly at will.

But it was a Mickelson eagle on No. 6 that would omen the staggering downward spiral for Woods.  Tiger followed with three consecutive bogeys to close out the front nine, and never looked quite comfortable after that, particularly with his putter, finishing with 31 putts for the round.

“I didn’t hit it as bad as the score indicated, but I putted awful,” said Woods.  “As good as I felt yesterday on the greens, is as bad as I felt today,” he said.

Tiger did not go down quietly however.  Deflated but not defeated, Woods made a spectacular birdie, holing out from the greenside bunker on No. 12, and to the delight of the Pebble faithful, the famed Tiger fist pump made a triumphant appearance.

It appeared momentum had shifted to Tiger.  But that apparent momentum shift disappeared in the Pacific winds just moments later, and what Phil did next probably left Tiger thinking, “I just can’t win.”

Facing an imposing 30 foot putt and staring bogey dead in its loathsome eyes, Mickelson did the inconceivable.  Bottom cup, double-fist pump, par save.

Phil had just T.K.O’d Tiger.  And the tournament for Woods, was over.

Fairly or not, Tiger’s performance will undoubtedly re-open discussions and debates about his ability to finish tournaments (T-19th place).  It seems not so long ago he was an assassin on Sundays, a sure bet to win as long as he was near the top of the leader board.

Now it seems final round performances like at Abu Dhabi and Pebble are the norm for Tiger, and not the exception.

“I thought I had to shoot 67 to 66.  But that wouldn’t have been good enough,” Woods said with a tired smile.  A candid assessment from a man who undoubtedly will again be the subject of renewed scrutiny, still searching for his first official PGA Tour win in more than two years.

Mickelson meanwhile not only showed that he can still get it done on the final day, but that his putting stroke is back with a vengeance.  And that bodes very well for him with Augusta National and the Masters on his mind and approaching in April.

“It just feels amazing, because I felt like my game was there, but I came out the first couple weeks and shot horrendous scores, and it made me question it,” Mickelson said.

Question it no more Mr. Mickelson.  And put a fork in that.

Additional Notes:

Mickelson used his new Callaway Golf RAZR Fit driver for a 93% driving accuracy on Sunday, and earned $1,152,000 for his victory, moving him to fifth place in the FedExCup standings.

Ricky Barnes finished five-under on Sunday, jumping up six spots, good enough for a third place finish at 13-under.

Kevin Streelman (nine-under) was just one stroke back at the turn, but closed bogey, bogey, double-bogey at No. 16, No. 17, and No. 18 to finish in a disappointing tie for ninth place.

Kevin Na (11-under), and Dustin Johnson (11-under) finished in a tie for fifth place, both shooting two-under on the day.

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Pete is a journalist, commentator, and interviewer covering the PGA Tour, new equipment releases, and the latest golf fashions. Pete's also a radio and television personality who's appeared multiple times on ESPN radio, and Fox Sports All Bets Are Off. And when he's not running down a story, he's at the range working on his game. Above all else, Pete's the proud son of a courageous mom who battled pancreatic cancer much longer than anyone expected. You can follow Pete on twitter @PGAPappas

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Will o'the Glen

    Nov 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Phil’s birdie putt at 12 in the final round is my all-time favorite Pebble Beach moment. That is what’s called “stepping on his neck” !

  2. melsantacruz

    Feb 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    I F’ing love Lefty! What a great day for my DVR.

  3. phizzy

    Feb 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Phil deserved the victory. I’m extremely happy to see him in the winner’s circle again after his recent bumps in the road with all the events in his family life. Congrats Phil and hopefully there are more victories before the year is over!!!

  4. Mike

    Feb 13, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Tiger continues to be the victim of his own bad thinking.

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Tour News

Tiger Woods fires second-round 76, will miss Genesis Open cut

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Tiger Woods’ trip to Los Angeles is over sooner than he’d hoped. Woods fired a 5-over 76 during the second round of the Genesis Open to miss the presumed cut at Riviera by four strokes (the second round won’t be completed until Saturday morning due to darkness).

Hopes were high Woods would continue to build on a T-23 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as the driving woes that plagued him at Torrey Pines followed him to the Riv, despite changing shafts in his TaylorMade M3.

RELATED: Tiger Woods WITB

Wayward off the tee, Woods made eight bogeys Friday, unable to grind out a decent score as he did with his opening-round 1-over 72. He was unable to rely on his putter the way did in this first round, three-putting back-to-back holes (No. 11 and 12). A stretch of three straight bogeys sunk Woods’ hopes of hanging around for the weekend.

(c/o PGATour.com)

We won’t have to wait long to see the Big Cat back in action, however, as Woods committed to next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida. Woods most recently put a peg in the ground at the course in 2014, where he ultimately withdrew due to back spasms.

The 79-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t teed it in back-to-back weeks since 2015, so while fans may not be encouraged by his play, at least he continues to be free from any issues with his surgically repaired back.

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Tour News

Tiger Woods shoots an opening-round 72 (1-over) at the 2018 Genesis Open

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After hitting just 17 fairways all week at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open, where he finished T23, Tiger Woods switched driver shafts and added 0.75 degrees of loft in his TaylorMade M3 driver ahead of the 2018 Genesis Open this week. He went from using a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70TX shaft, to a Matrix TP6HDe shaft — he used a TP7HDe shaft back in 2015.

So how did the switch work out for him at Riviera CC on Thursday?

Well, he hit driver 9 times during his round of 72 strokes; four went right — one of which got lost in a tree and he had to re-tee — one went left, and four found the fairway. He hit 8-of-14 fairways in total; no Fred Funk, but an improvement. Woods’ bigger issue on Thursday, actually, was that he hit only 7 greens in regulation, leaving himself a few tricky up-and-downs. Despite hitting only 38 percent of greens, Woods managed to make 5 birdies, and he continues displaying prowess on the greens (1.784 Strokes Gained Putting, and 82 feet worth of putts made).

He also showed some flashes of old Tiger with Arnie-esque follow through.

Of course, that means he missed the fairway way right, and he did go onto bogey the hole, but the shot made for some excitement on golf twitter, at least.

According to @RandallMellGC, Tiger described his round in a post-round interview: “I fought hard. I made a few simple, silly mistakes, bad shots here and there, missed on the wrong side, made a few birdies as well. 1-over’s not bad.”

Yea, that’s about right.

Tiger currently sits at T66, and six shots off the leader. Lots of golf to play, but he’ll likely be contending with the cutline come Friday afternoon. How do you think Tiger will finish this week at the 2018 Genesis Open?

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News

Custom Camerons, wedge stampings, a 6-hybrid, and Tiger wearing Tennis shoes?

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Yesterday, we brought you shots of Thomas Pieters’ iron stamping, Adam Scott’s new (shorter) wand, and more.

Today, we’ve got some more choice shots from the range at Riviera from Tuesday’s practice. Strap in for a sampling from a cornucopia of WITB shots and a helping of Tiger Woods (who we feature in two galleries). We also discussed his new driver shaft yesterday, so if you missed that piece, check it out.

On to the pictures.

First up, Wesley Bryan looks to be gaming an some Anthony Taranto artistry with his 54-degree Mack Daddy 4 wedge. Do work, indeed!

Ted Potter, Jr. won more than a million dollars at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week. But as the check hasn’t come yet, he hasn’t been able to buy Goo Gone to take the tape residue off the bottom of his putter.

A custom Cam for Rafa Cabrera Bello.

…and William McGirt.

#GrindGoals (Luke Donald’s 60-degree Mizuno T7)

Vijay Singh looks to have gotten his foot stuck in a bear trap, and yet he’s still practicing!

The most famous putter in golf, and Nike Vapor Advantage tennis shoes for Tiger?

Apparently, all the weight modification available on PXG 0311 irons was insufficient for Charl Schwartzel.

When your name scripting matches your sponsor’s script…

This is not the WITB of a 20-handicapper, rather Camilo Villegas may be the only Tour pro gaming a 6-hybrid.

So much is going on with Camilo Villegas’ irons…

You’ve seen custom stampings, but how about Bubba Watson’s custom shaft and custom shaft graphic?

When you’re the only PGA Tour professional to own a candy store, your wedge imagery reflects that fact.

The Big Cat browsing GolfWRX on mobile, no doubt…

If you’d like to dig deeper, we have two galleries of range photos from the Riv, plus 13 (!) WITB threads. Dig in!

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