Brandt Snedeker Keeps Phil Mickelson Honest At Phoenix Open

By Les Bailey

If you were busy watching Super Bowl pre-game activities and only caught the highlights of the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Sunday afternoon, you probably thought Phil Mickelson had a walk in the park en route to the 41st win of his storied PGA career, but it was anything but. Playing partners Brandt Snedeker and Padraig Harrington got their heads together before their tee time, and agreed they needed to put some pressure on Lefty, making him earn his third victory in the Valley of the Sun.

Padraig Harrington, making his 2013 debut on the PGA Tour, and playing the Phoenix Open because he likes the raucous atmosphere, got off to a good start on Sunday, with birdies at the third and fourth holes, but hit a bump in the road. He couldn’t find the putting stroke that got him to -8 under on Saturday. After spraying a few drives, Harrington picked up a bogey at the eighth hole, and dropped out of contention when he made the turn.

Brandt Snedeker on the other hand was a different story. When Lefty got off to a shaky start, with the bogey at the second hole, Snedeker continued to work his magic with the flat stick. Snedeker is one of the best putters on the tour, and Mickelson needed to respect it all afternoon. Every time Snedeker made a big putt, Mickelson followed suit.

The turning point came on the par 3 seventh hole when Mickelson hit his tee shot long, to the back of the green, leaving himself an impossible 55-foot putt. Snedeker was tight, and looking at another birdie, thinking maybe a two stroke swing. Lefty showed us some magic of his own with the flat stick.

Any other touring pro would have chipped the ball over the fringe, but not Mickelson. He had his caddy, Bones, remove the flag, putted the ball right to the fringe, and back down the hill to slam into the cup. Even Phil said, if he missed that putt, he would have went 6-8 feet past the hole, and may have well, picked up a bogey. That would have parred Mickelson’s lead at the time, to one shot.

Snedeker has finished as the bridesmaid two weeks in a row, to Tiger Woods at the Farmers Insurance last week, and a re-surrgent Phil Mickelson this week at the Phoenix Open. Put that together with a third place finish at the Hyundai in Maui, and Brandt Snedeker is having a great year. Since the end of the 2012 season where he won the FedEx Championship, I don’t think anyone on the planet is playing better right now.

I still get irritated that Snedeker wasn’t selected to the Ryder Cup in September. How could Captain Davis Love III not pick him? I kind of understood the pressure by Tiger to pick his buddy, Steve Stricker, but how could he add Jim Furyk, and not Snedeker?

Scott Piercy shot a -10 under par 61 on Sunday to move up to sole possession of third place. It was the second only to Mickelson’s almost record setting performance on Thursday. I think everyone can be thankful Piercy started too far back, but I’m sure the score board watchers were watching, and could hear the footsteps.

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