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Lefty Earns 41st Career Win in Front of Partisan Crowd
This weekend was vintage Phil Mickelson. In winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale,he played as well as he could possibly play, and yet he left us wanting more.
On Thursday, he saw a putt for a 59 cruelly horseshoe out of the cup even as he was walking it in, putter raised, leaving him a tap-in for a 60.
On Friday, he was cruising toward the PGA Tour's 36-hole scoring record until a double-bogey at 18 left him a shot shy.
On Saturday, he came up just short of the Tour's 54-hole scoring record.
On Sunday, he turned back a Brandt Snedeker charge with one of the greatest putts of his career, a 54-footer through the fringe at No. 7 that was barreling along until the cup got in the way. Three back-nine birdies later, he had a four-shot win over Snedeker and a staggering 28-under finish — and yet, the absence of his career nemesis placed an undeserved asterisk next to his 41st career PGA Tour win.
Yes, as Johnny Miller pointed out during Sunday's broadcast, had Phil not had the misfortune of playing in the Tiger Woods era, he would be the undisputed king of golf. As it is, Mickelson has fashioned a career that would be the envy of all but a handful of players in the game's history. In particular, Lefty has towered over the desert Southwest like a smiling Sphinx, winning six times in the state where he played his collegiate golf. Playing for an adoring crowd, the largest of the PGA Tour season, Mickelson tied the tournament scoring record of 256, 28-under par. Only twice in 72 holes did he post an over-par score on a hole.
Mostly, though, he regained a feel for what it's like to win a golf tournament, which could portend a massive year.
"It's an important one for me, because it's been a while since I won, been a while since I've been in contention," Mickelson said. "I was certainly nervous heading into today's final round.
"I think the thing I'm most excited about was the way I was able to regain control of my thoughts after a few shots early on that I didn't care for and come back and hit a number of good shots on the back nine to do what I needed to do to win."
Next up: it's back to Pebble Beach, where Mickelson is the defending champion and has won four times. Snedeker will be there too, hopeful that Lefty left his best scores in Scottsdale.
• Phil offered a tip of the hat to two key contributors — Butch Harmon, who conducted an emergency session with Lefty prior to the tournament to correct what Mickelson called a "small thing on the takeaway," and his new driver, a Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme that helped him post 29 birdies and an eagle and lead the field in greens in regulation.
• This marked the ninth different time that Tiger Woods and Mickelson have won in back-to-back weeks.
• Of Mickelson's 41 career wins, 19 have come on the Tour's West Coast Swing.
• Snedeker vaulted to the top of the FedExCup standings with his third top-3 finish of the young season. He also moves to a career-high 6th in the World Golf Rankings. A week after finishing second to Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines, he ran into the Mickelson buzzsaw at TPC Scottsdale, although he made Phil work for his win with a final-round 65. "I'm running into Hall of Famers every week," Snedeker said.
• Snedeker's 260 total would have been good enough to win the previous 11 Waste Management Phoenix Opens and has been bested only three times in the tournament's history.