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Mickelson lips out a chance at 59

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Phil Mickelson tried to walk it home and he nearly did.

“I couldn’t envision which side of the hole it could possibly miss on, and it ended up somehow just dying off at the end, catching the lip,” Mickelson said.

Jim “Bones” Mackay, Mickelson’s caddy, took a hop, a side-step and then collapsed to his knees as the putt for 59 lipped out.

“He could not have hit a better putt,” Mackay said.

Although TPC Scottsdale might not be considered hallowed golfing ground, the 11 birdies that Mickelson had made caught the attention of some tortured golfing soul, who decreed that enough was enough, that Mickelson would not enter the pantheon of those who break 60. For all of us, 11 birdies in a round would be a highlight that might surpass the birth of a child or an acceptance to an Ivy League school. For a professional golfer like Mickelson, it was an opportunity to make 12, and he certainly tried.

The round began on the back side of the course known for its rocking fans. After approach shots inside 10 feet led to birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 (his first two holes of the day), Mickelson nearly aced No. 12, stuffing an iron to two feet for a third-consecutive birdie. A wayward drive to the native area in the No. 13 fairway nearly cost Mickelson a shot, as he was forced to pitch out some 90 yards, leaving over 160 in. Undaunted, he stuffed yet another approach to two feet, for a fourth-consecutive strike against par. After a terrific lag putt from more than 50 feet on his fifth hole, Mickelson had another chance at a stroke-save, but missed an eight-foot birdie try on No. 15.

Coming to the stadium setting on the famous par-3 16th, Mickelson’s efforts to move the needle were rewarded as he slipped an approach 17 feet from the hole and then nailed the putt to reach five-under. Two more birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 (from four and 15 feet, respectively) brought the southpaw to seven-under and the crowd to its feet.

The train found little reason to slow its pace as the back nine commenced. Lefty buried a 22-footer on No. 1 (his 10th hole) and a 13-foot effort on No. 4. Sandwiched between were an up-and-down par on No. 2 and a tap-in from a foot and a half on No. 3. Looking back at the round, the recovery for par on the second hole kept the momentum going. After a hot approach that flew long and left of the green, Mickelson pitched to 11 feet with his third, but coaxed the par putt home.

Standing on No. 5 tee, Mickelson had to know that two more birdies would bring him to 12-under par, a 59 against TPC-Scottsdale’s par of 71. The way his game had revealed itself to that point, who among the crowd would have bet against him? On Wednesday, Phil Mickelson shared his affinity for the course with reporters:

“The thing I love about TPC Scottsdale is its risk-reward,” Mickelson told reporters. “You have so many opportunities to go for it, try to make birdies or eagles, but with great penalty if you don’t pull the shot off because there’s so much water, especially the last six, seven holes of the golf course.”

The risk-reward design of the course nearly derailed his march against history. An average approach from 160 yards led to a 43-foot, two-putt for par on No. 5, followed by a near-mucking of No. 6. After his new Callaway driver put him in the left rough, Mickelson once again caught a flyer and sailed the green, leaving a pitch-back of some 10 yards. Lefty snuggled the ball inside five feet and drained a twitchy little nod to keep hope alive.

The swashbuckler strode to No. 7’s tee and stuck an iron inside seven feet, as if to say “Yes, I can birdie all the par 3s.” And he did, knocking the approach putt in for the fourth two on his scorecard.

“Probably the best shot of the day because it’s a tucked little pin over that bunker and I hit a 6-iron to four or five feet,” Mickelson said. “It was really a good shot from 196 yards.”

Moving to No. 8, his penultimate, the game was truly on. In order to gain access to a small and heralded corps, Mickelson would need to find a way to birdie one of two par 4 holes that exceeded 460 yards in length. A two-putt par from 18 feet set the stage for the last-hole ebb and flow that tied the course record and staked Mickelson to an early four-stroke lead.

Mickelson hinted that he was close to the game he wanted each of the last two weeks. Might Tiger Woods’ victory at Torrey Pines, Mickelson’s San Diego home turf, have inspired Lefty to ratchet his game up? Check around Sunday night for the answer.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Ronald Montesano

    Feb 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Roy…Sounding like Sergio~

    Mulligain…yes and yes.

  2. Mulliagain

    Feb 3, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Great round and a great putt!

  3. Roy Jones

    Feb 3, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Fate hates the big oaf and loves Tiger

  4. Ronald Montesano

    Feb 2, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Troy…I agree~it was a great putt. I suspect that our putting experts would say that the putt was a prime candidate to lip out, however. It was bending and picking up speed, not dying at the hole. All it needed to do was hit an edge (as it did) and fate would take over. That it did the horrible horseshoe was worse for Phil and Bones.

    Remember too, that Phil made a few great saves off camera to get to that point. Funny how he could have gone 58 or 57, as he only played -1 over the final 5 holes. What a magical round.

  5. Troy Vayanos

    Feb 1, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    Great round of golf by Mickelson.

    Still can’t believe that last putt lipped out. Phil has continued the hot form through today shooting a six under 65.

    Can he keep it going for 36 more holes?

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Tour News

Tiger Woods catches fire after a slow start, shoots 5-under 65 at Tour Championship to tie lead

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Tiger Woods, who came to the Tour Championship 20th on the FedExCup points list, is making early moves at the Tour Championship at East Lake. After an opening-hole 3-putt from 25 feet for a bogey, and then three straight pars, Tiger played the rest of his round 6-under par (birdies at 5, 6, 12 and 14), capping it with a 27-foot eagle putt at the 18th hole. In the end, it was a 5-under 65 for Tiger, who currently sits tied for the lead with Rickie Fowler.

Here’s his approach to the par-5 18th hole, which measures 590 yards in total:

And here’s the eagle putt, to which he reacted with a few casual fist pumps and a putter raise.

As we’ve reported, Tiger recently switched back to his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter with which he’s one 13-of-14 majors throughout his career. He may have found the spark of old on the greens.

The only problem is, even if Tiger wins this week’s Tour Championship, he’s going to need some help winning the FedExCup and $10 million payout. Here are the scenarios he needs to happen:

But hey…

Here’s where the top-5 players on the FedExCup points list sit currently on Day 1:

  1. Bryson DeCheambeau (+3 thru 15, T27)
  2. Justin Rose (-2 thru 15, T6)
  3. Tony Finau (-2 thru 16, T6)
  4. Dustin Johnson (+2 thru 16, T23)
  5. Justin Thomas (-3 thru 16, T4)

Who do you think is going to win the Tour Championship and the FedExCup?

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Tour News

Tour Rundown: Sangmoon Bae is headed back to the PGA Tour

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The schedulers may have whiffed with Tour Championship and Ryder Cup in back-to-back weeks, but that’s what we have on the horizon. As the 2017-18 PGA Tour season comes to a close, and with it, the Web.Com Tour playoffs, number one on everyone’s mind is next season: where will I play? Do I have status? Some of those questions were answered last week, so let’s run down the answers to the questions, in this week’s Tour Rundown.

Bae back on PGA Tour after Web.Com playoff win

The oldest event on the Web.Com Tour was the site of Sang-moon Bae’s comeback completion. Two years of mandatory military service in South Korea did little to derail the 32-year old’s professional career. Bae birdied the 72nd hole to hold off his challengers, including the eponymous Anders Albertson, to win the Albertson’s Boise Open at 19-under. Bae was a stroke off the first-round lead, then moved into a first-place tie after 36-holes. He continued to advance, seizing the 54-hole lead. Albertson caught fire on Sunday, making 5 birdies in his opening 9 holes. After a bogey stall at the 11th, Albertson birdied 5 of the closing 8 holes. Roberto Diaz of Mexico was tied with Bae after round 3, but a Sunday 68 dropped him back to 5th place. Bae guaranteed a return to the 2018-19 PGA Tour with his Idaho triumph.

Wu works wonders in Holland for KLM victory

Like Bae, Ashun Wu of China birdied the 72nd hole at The Dutch club, host site of The KLM championship on the European Tour. Like Bae, his closest pursuer (Chris Wood) failed to match it, and Wu walked away with his third career European tour title. Wood held a 1-stroke lead over Wu after 54 holes, and the battle to see which “W” would emerge with the “W,” came down to the final 9 holes. Wood played well, making 3 birdies in the inward half. They were sandwiched around a double-bogey at the 12th, and the Englishman closed with 5 pars to finish at 15-under. Wu’s card included only one hiccough, a front-nine bogey, and he was a bit more clutch when it counted. The victory moved Wu inside the top 50, in the season-long Race To Dubai.

Stanford claims first LPGA major title at Evian

For her entire career, Angela Stanford has been a fixture in the top 5 of major championships. It has been a wonder that she did not claim one of them until the fall of 2018. In France, Stanford mounted a final-round comeback, overcame 3rd round-leader Amy Olson, and captured the Evian Championship by one shot over Olson and 3 others. Stanford opened with 72 on Thursday, then dived into the 60s with abandon. Rounds of 64-68-68 brought her to 12-under par. The Texan was able to keep her head, despite an eagle-double-birdie stretch on holes 15-17. Austin Ernst had a clean card on Sunday, but 3 birdies were 1 shy of victory. Mo Martin also had 3 birdies on day 4, but 2 bogeys brought her back to 11-under with Ernst. Sei Young Kim and Olson both went above par in the 4th round, after playing marvelous golf through the first 3 days. Despite their struggles, they also finished in that second-place tie.

Broadhurst claims third title of PGA Tour Champions

Paul Broadhurst won his first 2 Champions title in 2016. After taking a break in 2017, the Englishman returned with abandon in 2018. Wins at the 2-man Bass Pro and the May Senior PGA were followed this week with a triumph in Michigan. Broadhurst overcame a surging Brandt Jobe, who birdied 5 of his firs 6, back-9 holes, before he stalled. Jobe reached 13-under to claim second place alone. Broadhurst finished in style, with birdie at the last, for a 2-shot win.

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Photos from the 2018 European Tour Properties Senior Classic

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Thanks to photographer Mladen Aleksandrov, GolfWRX was live from the 2018 European Tour Properties Senior Championship at Lighthouse Resort & Spa in Balchik, Bulgaria.

For those who don’t know, this tour is essentially the equivalent to America’s Champions Tour, and this event hosted legends such as Ian Woosnam and Jarmo Sandelin. Magnus P Atlevi took home this year’s title, winning by three shots over Stephen Dodd.

Check out our photos from the event, including a bit of culture and a bit of golf equipment. Enjoy!

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