Mickelson's Mini-Meltdown Costs Him in Abu Dhabi

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Phil Mickelson played three largely brilliant rounds of golf to finish second at the European Tour's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, one shot behind winner Pablo Larrazabal, leaving Lefty with plenty of positives heading into his PGA Tour season. But one hole was vintage Phil, and not in a good way. On 13 at Abu Dhabi National, Mickelson hit his drive into the brush, then incurred a penalty with a double-hit attempting to get the ball back into play with a right-handed punch, leading to a triple-bogey 7. "I was just trying to dribble it out of the bush because I couldn't get the unplayable penalty lie to give me a shot without stroke and distance and I felt it was worth the risk," he said. "It not only cost a penalty shot, but it also stopped the ball from going to a spot where I could hit again. So after that I got refocused and got aggressive and made some birdies and gave myself a chance. If Pablo had not birdied the last hole to win, I would have gotten into a playoff, and so I give him a lot of credit for finishing the tournament off the right way."

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Mickelson finished tied with Rory McIlroy, who incurred a penalty of his own on Saturday for failing to take full relief from a spectator crosswalk. Bottom line: If these two titans can get out of their own way, we can expect some great golf from them this season.

 

Elsewhere...

Patrick Reed threw his hat into the ring of up-and-coming talent with his second career victory, a two-shot win over Ryan Palmer at the Humana Challenge. The 23-year-old Reed jumped from 73rd to 41st in the Official World Golf Ranking, givign him a spot in next month's 64-man World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship field.

"I always play to try to prove to everybody that I belong out here," Reed said. "As well as, I belong, not only out here on the PGA Tour, but also with the best players in the world."

Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard tied for third at 25-under. Johnson birdied the final five holes for a final-round 62.
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