Friday, April 20, 2018
Sports

Audacious putt helps Mickelson win wire-to-wire

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Phil Mickelson's 5-iron shot sailed long and right on the par-3 seventh, stopping an inch from the fringe and leaving him in danger of losing at least a stroke to playing partner Brandt Snedeker.

Mickelson left Snedeker shaking his head and went on to complete a wire-to-wire victory Sunday in the Phoenix Open.

Fifty-five feet away, with a mound and a 20-foot swath of fringe between his ball and the hole, Mickelson hit a putt through the taller grass rather than chip over it. He had caddie Jim Mackay remove the flagstick so it wouldn't deflect the ball if it had too much speed, a move that proved wise when the ball raced into the cup.

"The challenge of that was to judge the speed where half the putt is through fringe and half is on the green," Mickelson said. "I got lucky to have made it, obviously. I was just trying to two-putt it. It was going fairly quickly when it got to the hole, probably would have been 6, 8 feet by."

Snedeker joked with Mickelson for a moment before holing his own birdie putt.

"Are you kidding me?" Snedeker said of his reaction. "I hit a great shot in there close and I thought, 'Hey, I can get one on him here and put some pressure on him.' He makes that, and he let me hear about it before I putt, and he let me know that I needed to make that to tie. We had fun with it. That's Phil being Phil."

Mickelson, a former Arizona State star, shot 4-under 67 to finish at 28-under 256, two strokes off the PGA Tour record of 254 set by Tommy Armour III in the 2003 Texas Open.

Mickelson missed a chance for 59 in the first round when his birdie putt on the final hole curled 180 degrees around the cup and stayed out.

"I think that sets up the tone for the rest of the year, because I really started to play well," Mickel­son said. "But for me, the rest of the year took a turn on Tuesday when I got my new driver. It just changed my whole deal."

Snedeker finished second, four strokes back after 65.

Mickelson took a three-stroke lead to the 17th tee, and he nearly drove into the left-side water on the drivable par 4, his ball stopping a yard short of the hazard. He flopped his second shot 15 feet past and made the birdie.

The crowd was estimated at 58,791 for a weekly total of 525,821, short of the record of 538,356 set in 2008.

WEBB MATCHES SLAMMIN' SAM: Karrie Webb won her eighth Australian Ladies Masters, tying the U.S. PGA Tour record of Sam Snead, who won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times. Webb shot 5-under 67 for 203 total at Gold Coast in the European Ladies Tour's opener.

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