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Mickelson loses on 18th hole as Vaughn Taylor takes Pebble Beach title

Phil Mickelson reacts after missing a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th green that would have forced a playoff at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

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Phil Mickelson reacts after missing a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th green that would have forced a playoff at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — There were dueling pictures of emotion in the final moments of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday.

With the waves crashing against the seawall behind him, Phil Mickelson stared vacantly into the crowd around the 18th green, masking with a small smile the unquestioned disappointment of a missed 5-foot birdie putt that would have forced a playoff.

Behind the grandstand was Leot Taylor, wife of new tournament champion Vaughn Taylor, whose life changed dramatically when Mickelson's ball hit the left edge of the cup and spun away.

Dressed in red on Valentine's Day, Leot held her 2-year-old son, Locklyn, close to her face and sobbed uncontrollably. Locklyn, also in red, clutched a Mickey Mouse doll.

"There are so many ups and downs in this career," Leot Taylor said after wiping her tears. "And this goes to show you're that you don't count anyone out. Everybody can win out here, and I'm happy my guy won this week."

It had been more than a decade since Taylor, 39, had won on the PGA Tour. It had been three years since he had a full PGA card. And the previous week Taylor was so sick that he withdrew from a Web.com Tour event in Bogota, Colombia, and flew to Pebble Beach as an alternate.

"Just absolutely amazing," Taylor said. "Didn't know if it would ever happen again, to be honest. Just lost a lot of confidence, lost a good bit of my game. I just kept working, grinding and kept at it. And I can't believe it actually happened today."

Taylor, who trailed leader Mickelson by six at the outset Sunday, had four straight birdies on Nos. 13-16 for 7-under 65 and 17-under 270 total.

By then, Taylor, ranked 447th in the world, owned a two-shot lead.

Then Mickelson, trying to tie Mark O'Meara's record five Pebble Beach titles, drained a 13-foot birdie at the par-3 17th. A perfect drive, approach and wedge on the par-5 18th left him 5 feet short as the large gallery cheered as if he had already forced a playoff.

But Mickelson already looked shaky on some shorts putts, misfiring on four from 8 to 10 feet, and he powered the birdie putt hard enough onto the edge of the hole for it to spin out. He had four bogeys and shot 72.

"It never crossed my mind that I wouldn't make that one," Mickelson said, "and when it didn't go in, I was a bit shocked,"

Mickelson, 45, remained winless since the 2013 British Open. "I played a little bit tighter through the round than I wanted to," he said. "I was trying to free it up, but I didn't salvage pars on some holes that I needed to."

Champions: Bernhard Langer won the Chubb Classic in Naples for his 26th title on the 50-and-over circuit, closing with 1-over 73 for 15-under 201 and a three-stroke victory over Fred Couples (66) at TwinEagles.

European: Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel cruised to victory in his home country, closing with 7-under 63 to finish at 16-under 264 to win the Tshwane Open in Pretoria, South Africa, by eight shots.

Mickelson loses on 18th hole as Vaughn Taylor takes Pebble Beach title 02/14/16 [Last modified: Sunday, February 14, 2016 9:48pm]
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