Phil Mickelson (pictured) won wire to wire for just the third time in his career when he closed out the Phoenix Open on Sunday afternoon. At the end of the tournament Mickelson had a four shot advantage over Brand Snedeker who was runner-up for the second consecutive week.
Lefty joins Gene Littler, Arnold Palmer and Mark Calcavecchia as a three-time winner of the Phoenix Open. He defends his AT &T Pebble Peach title this week as he strives to win back-to-back for the first time in seven years. The field also includes Tiger Woods who will be looking to build on his win in the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago.
It is something of an anomaly that Mickelson has never been No. 1 in the world rankings. In any other era without Woods in his pomp Mickelson would be the best player in the world and would have won more than the four majors he currently has to his name.
The Phoenix Open was Mickelson’s 41st PGA Tour win. He has now won a title in each of the last 10 years, the longest streak of any of his contempories including Tiger. He won at Pebble Beach a year ago and in his current form must be a leading contender on the Pebble Beach course that is suited to his game.
Mickelson was close to setting several Tour records at Scottsdale but came up just short. His final score was just two shots worse than the Tour record and he was just a shot shy of the 36 hole scoring record.
The key to Mickelson’s win was his putting especially on the pars 3s on which he had nine twos throughout the week. He has now played the famous 16th 86 times in his career and his return is 12 birdies, 12 bogeys and 62 pars. He relished the “organized mayhem” of that hole and responded to the raucous atmosphere generated by the supporters lining the hole from tee to green.
Decent weather and local boy Mickelson in the mix attracted 180,000 people to the tournament on Saturday, a record for a single day’s play in the history of the Tour. Mickelson delighted the hordes by scoring a seven under par round of 64 which included birdies on each of the last four holes.
While Mickelson can take great heart from his form in the context of trying to win the US Masters for the fourth time in his carer, Snedeker can reflect on a fortnight during which he has finished second to Woods and Mickelson. Padraig Harrington looks back to the level of form that saw him win three majors in two years but the star of the show was undoubtedly Phil.