by Jeff Skinner
Phil Mickelson has said all season that his game was close. But with all to show for this season being a tie for 49th, a missed cut and a tie for 26th you have to think that maybe Phil and Butch Harmon were the only ones that saw it that way. Well Phil proved his assessment correct today as he climbed from six strokes off the lead jumped past Charlie Wi and then trampled over Tiger Woods for a two stroke win at The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-AM.
With Charlie Wi holding a three stroke lead over Ken Duke and four over Woods, Wi was hoping that the 2012 phenomena of final round leaders collapsing would be broken this week. When he double bogeyed his opening hole with a four putt it looked as if his fears would be realized. With Phil and Tiger paired together in the penultimate group Wi and Duke were destined to play Pebble Beach in relative anonymity.
Phil and Tiger stole the show, actually Phil did the stealing and Tiger was just sitting in the getaway car. Mickelson knew he needed to start quickly and he did just that with three birdies and an eagle through the first six holes. At the sixth he crushed a fairway wood onto the green at the par five and then poured in a 21 foot putt for an eagle that sent roars through windswept Pebble Beach.
Phil has said before and he repeated it again today that Tiger brings out the best in him. That was true today but that eagle at the sixth seemed to derail Tiger as he went on to miss short putts and end up with three straight bogeys on seven, eight and nine. Woods seemed unable to focus like he has in the past and he wasn’t a factor after that string.
Even when Woods holed out from a bunker on twelve for birdie Phil answered back. Phil was over thirty feet from the hole for par and a two stroke swing looked likely. But not with the way Phil was rolling the ball today. He drained that long par saving putt, refocused and went birdie, birdie over the next two holes to extend his lead.
Phil looked in control of his swing all day, never over swinging, hitting fairways and his putting was vintage Mickelson. He has found his stroke and hopefully the long putter is in the trash. His putting today was splendid, his driving uncharacteristically straight and his approaches superb. His 64 was the low round of the day, by three shots and he said it was not only one of his best rounds here but certainly one of his most emotional wins ever.
With his wife Amy hugging him after the round she summed it up perfectly “Oh my god, what a round. Are you kidding me!” Amy was right on, what a round it was.