Despite Phil Mickelson’s best efforts to finish the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on time, he begrudgingly accepted a Monday morning conclusion after significant weather delays Sunday.
It was worth the wait.
Mickelson began the morning with a three-shot lead over Paul Casey and Scott Stallings with two holes to play and held on for his fifth career Pebble Beach Pro-Am title, tying Mark O’Meara’s all-time record.
It’s the 44th career Tour win for Mickelson, who ended a five-year drought with last year’s victory at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship.
The 48-year-old shot 19-under 268 for the week and urged playing partner Casey to try and finish the round Sunday night in near-pitch black conditions. Casey didn’t think they’d have enough time and a fascinating back-and-forth discussion took place before play was suspended with two holes remaining for Mickelson and Casey, at which point Scott Stallings was in the clubhouse and tied with Casey at 15-under.
Mickelson trailed Casey by three shots entering the final round and shot 7-under 65 to take control. Casey has 14 international victories and was vying for just his third career Tour title.
It wasn’t the first time Mickelson has had to wait things out at Pebble Beach -The 1998 Pro-Am was rescheduled six months after the fact due to unrelenting weather before Mickelson ultimately picked up his first career win there in August.
Two decades later, Mickelson won’t have much time to celebrate No. 5. He’s heading to Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles for this week’s Genesis Open. There he’ll have bragging rights over tournament host Tiger Woods thanks to his one-on-one victory in “The Match” last fall in Las Vegas.
Mickelson will return to Pebble Beach in six months hoping to finally knock off his last leg of the Career Grand Slam with that elusive U.S. Open victory. He said Monday morning that this win means “absolutely nothing” for his chances at the U.S. Open in June.
The rough will be much thicker then and Mickelson’s bomb-and-gouge strategy he employed at the Pro-Am won’t work once the USGA gets its hands on the course.
What it does mean is that Mickelson continues to be a serious contender in the twilight of his career and now has one win and one runner-up in three starts this season. And a goal of 50 all-time victories is within reach as Mickelson continues to set records and defy the odds.
After winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for the fifth time, Phil Mickelson says Paul Casey made right call to halt play Sunday because of the dark.
As far as Phil Mickelson apologies go, his concession after the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was stronger than normal.
Maybe the sight of a huge winning check on a glorious Carmel Bay morning did the trick, because after winning the event for a fifth time, the 48-year-old said it would have been a mistake to keep playing in Sunday night’s darkness.
“Paul (Casey) made the tough call, but it was the right decision in that he protected himself and myself for the competition,” Mickelson said. “So 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 have been mowed.”
Someone in Mickelson’s camp also might have noted that his group was woefully behind and that if finishing the round Sunday was a priority, perhaps they should have played faster. Even then, the prospect of playing Pebble Beach’s 18th in the dark can be a daunting one in daylight. One drive into the ocean and a dispute over the “point of entry” could easy have ensued.
“Sometimes I just get in my own little bubble and I don’t see the big picture and I just, I wanted to finish, I was playing well, and I just didn’t take all the factors into account,” he said after Monday’s two-hole finish. “So I ended up thanking him this morning for making that tough call because I made it tougher for him, but he did the right thing in protecting both of us.”
Image: Phil Mickelson hoists the trophy on the 18th hole after the conclusion of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.