Mickelson cruises to 40th PGA Tour title with win at Pebble Beach

Posted in What's News by on February 12th, 2012

A birdie on the 72nd hole put an exclamation point to Phil Mickelson’s 40th PGA Tour win — a two-shot triumph over 54-hole leader and eventual runner-up Charlie Wi, and a complete drubbing of playing partner Tiger Woods.

Mickelson’s final-round 8-under 64 came on a day when he drilled long putt after long putt while Woods did his best impression of one of the amateurs whose swings CBS dissected ad nauseam on Saturday. Here are some stats that caused Lefty’s wife Amy to exclaim, “What a round! Are you kidding me?”

  • 13 of 14 fairways hit in regulation
  • 14 greens in regulation
  • 10 one-putts


Woods, who three-putted the final hole after reaching the green in two and closed with a 3-over 75, showed a few flashes of brilliance. But shots like his holed birdie from the bunker on the par-3 12th after Mickelson’s wayward tee shot landed in the rough left of the green were few and far between. For sure, on a day when he said he “putted awful,” Tiger was no match for the flawless Phil, who came right back with a clutch 30-footer for par on that same hole.

Indeed, the game-within-the-game was over by the 13th, when, had they been competing in match play, Mickelson would have blistered Woods, 7&5.

“It feels just amazing,” Mickelson, who came from six shots back at the start of the finale, told CBS after his win. He lauded his caddie, Jim Mackay for helping him stay aggressive and go for a birdie on 14, but Bones’ calming influence on the par-5 18th potentially saved Mickelson from an unforced error.

Rather than give Mickelson a driver off the tee, Mackay suggested his golfer play more conservatively to preserve his win.

“I love a 4-iron here,” CBS cameras captured Mackay saying. When Mickelson wondered if the club were enough, his caddie — who pointed out that Wi, playing in the final group one hole back, was about to cut his lead to two shots after sticking his tee shot on the par-3 17th — said yes. “I like a good, aggressive 4-iron.”

As for Wi, the “demons” he reffered to a day earlier were clearly at play early when he double-bogeyed his first hole. But the third golfer in as many weeks to blow a final-round lead played his way back from oblivion into second place, thanks to three straight birdies to end his day. Wi posted an even-par 72 for a 15-under score for the week.

Bill Belichick teams with Ricky Barnes for a third-place finish in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (Photo: Wikipedia)Because it’s always about us, even at Pebble Beach, there was a definite New England flavor to the proceedings on the Monterey Peninsula this week. Ricky Barnes, whose father was a punter for the New England Patriots way back when, finished solo third, at 13-under. He saddled up with current Pats head coach Bill Belichick, who plays to a reported 16-handicap at Nantucket’s Sankaty Head Golf Club, for the pro-am portion of the proceedings. The duo finished third as a team.

For Belichick, the golf was a welcome respite from his team’s disappointing Super Bowl loss a week ago.

“It’s been a tough couple of days,” Belichick, wearing his signature hoodie (albeit with a Pebble Beach logo instead of a Flying Elvis, and with the sleeves pushed up rather than looking like a badger ripped them with its jagged teeth) said on Saturday.”But Pebble Beach is a great spot to take your mind off some of the other problems we had.”

But back to Phil, who beat Tiger for the fifth consecutive time that the two have gone head-to head in a final round and bested him by an astounding 11 shots Sunday. The 2012 Pebble Beach titleholder graciously applauded his vanquished competitor.

“I’m very appreciative of what he’s meant to the game of golf over the years,” he told reporters. “I don’t believe anybody’s benefited more from what he’s done for the game than myself.

“I also am inspired playing with him,” Mickelson added. “He seems to bring out the best in me and the last four or five years I’ve played some of my best golf playing with him and I really enjoy it….I just feel very inspired when I play with him, I love playing with him and he brings out some of my best golf. I hope that he continues to play better and better and I hope he and I have a chance to play together more in final rounds.”

Mickelson also praised the progress Woods has made with his game. “I thought watching him play it looked so different than it has in the last few years,” he said, “because it just never looked like he was going to hit a hook the way he had for a while.

“He was hitting it so solid that you could tell his game was really close.”

Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. View all her articles here. You may also follow Kay on Twitter @golfexaminer 

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