Hail the new Prince of Pebble Beach: Phil Mickelson wins fifth AT&T title
PEBBLE BEACH — Phil Mickelson birdied the 18th hole Monday to wrap up the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am championship, tying Mark O’Meara’s record of five titles at the tournament.
After rain, wind and hail caused issues throughout the tournament and led to the late finish, the sun shone on the course Monday morning as Mickelson and second-place finisher Paul Casey completed their final rounds.
Mickelson entered the day with a three-shot lead over Casey with two holes to play, while Casey needed to make a putt on the 16th hole for par. Mickelson had been in favor of trying to finish the tournament Sunday night but Casey balked. Mickelson ended up thanking Casey on Monday morning for making the decision to finish up Monday.
“Paul (Casey) made the tough call, but it was the right decision in that he protected himself and myself for the competition,” Mickelson said. “We would have been at a severe disadvantage last night where you can’t see the targets, the greens were pretty rough and this morning we came out and the greens were much better after they’ve been mowed and you could see the targets visually beautifully and also the wind happened to change a bit so 17 and 18 were playing much shorter.”
Mickelson said he was “in his own little bubble” and didn’t see the big picture at the time Sunday night.
“I wanted to finish,” he said. “I was playing well and I just didn’t take all the factors into account.”
Casey said “it was pitch black” out on the course when play stopped Sunday night. Despite entering the final round leading by three shots, He still said it was a good week after a birdie on the 18th allowed him to finish alone in second place.
“I got an up-front, close look at Phil shooting a great round of golf and winning this golf event,” he said. “I’m happy with the way I played.”
He added he was “very happy” to win the team championship along with amateur partner Don Colleran, an executive vice president at FedEx.
Mickelson capped a final-round 65 at Pebble Beach on Monday with a par on 17 and a birdie on 18. His Sunday-into-Monday round featured seven birdies and no bogeys.
“I wanted to hit a good shot on 17 because that allowed me to hit iron and play for par just in case he had an eagle,” Mickelson said.
The fifth win at the AT&T Pro-Am puts Mickelson ahead of Sam Snead, who won the tournament four times. Snead holds the all-time mark for PGA Tour wins with 82. When asked if he sees himself as the Snead of his generation, Mickelson explained how the science around golf and medicine is so much better now.
“We’re able to take advantage and get our bodies to perform and function much more efficiently,” said Mickelson, who becomes the oldest winner of the tournament, surpassing Steve Lowery who won in 2008 at age 47. “So there’s no reason why players of this generation could not play to a longer time period and have a longer career.”
At age 48, Mickelson said his swing speed is as fast as it’s ever been.
“It’s not a secret, it was nine months of hard work and then overnight I was swinging 6 miles an hour faster,”: he said, explaining time in the gym and biometric swing studies improved his game.
The win marks the 44th career PGA Tour title for Mickelson and his 14th in California, tying him with Tiger Woods for the most in the state since 1983.
Mickelson said he’d have a hard time arguing another course fits his game better than Pebble Beach.
“This really is a special place for me, going back to 1919 when my grandfather was one of the original caddies here,” Mickelson said. “This place is very special. It’s the first professional event for me as a pro and to win here this week is something I’m going to cherish.”
Mickelson will return to Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open in June.
“I really don’t think there’s any carryover from here to the U.S. Open,” he said. “It’s a totally different course: the greens will be firm, the rough will be high.”
Rather than focusing on his return to Pebble Beach in pursuit of the only major title that’s eluded him thus far, Mickelson said he’s looking ahead to the Masters in April.
“That’s so far down the road, all I’m focused on right now is the Masters,” he said. “That’s all that is in my mind and what I’m thinking about.”
Scott Stallings finished in third place at 15-under, followed by Jason Day and Si Woo Kim at 13-under for fourth, Scott Langley at 12-under in sixth, Kevin Streelman, Brian Gay and Lucas Glover knotted up at 11-under for seventh and Max Homa, Michael Thompson, Chris Stroud and Scott Piercy tied for 10th at 10-under.