Phil Mickelson is the winner of the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am after a two-shot victory over third-round leader Charlie Wi. Ricky Barnes was four back in third and Aaron Baddeley one behind him in fourth place. Mickelson pulverized Pebble Beach on Sunday firing a bogey-free, final-round low 64. It was the best round of the day by three shots. Mickelson entered the day trailing by six shots before tying the lead on the fifth with a birdie. After his eagle on six he found himself with a two-shot lead that he wouldn’t ever relinquish. Yet, it wasn’t as easy as Mickelson made it look: He had to hole two putts over 30 feet on 12 and 15 for par to keep the momentum to claim his fourth victory career at Pebble Beach. The excellent final round came to a rousing finish as his wedge into 18 landed just five feet short of the hole. After holing that putt as well, he closed out his first win of the 2012 season, his fourth at Pebble Beach and the 40th of his distinguished career.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
For the third week in a row, a Tour player was trying to navigate a big lead on Sunday and lock up their first career victory. For the third week in a row, a Tour player was still looking for said victory. Makes sense that Groundhog Day was just a few days ago, right?
Last week, Mickelson flew in Butch Harmon before Saturday’s round to help him get “fixed”. It worked on Saturday but he couldn’t but anything together on Sunday in Phoenix. This week it was the complete opposite. He didn’t bring in Harmon and he tore Pebble to shreds on Sunday.
After making only two bogeys in his first two rounds, he played his final 36 holes, all at Pebble Beach, 10-under-par with only one bogey and that was on Saturday. He led the field in strokes gained-putting and was T3 GIR. He made every putt he needed to and avoided the big number that sometimes creeps into his game on the weekend. Mickelson also beat his playing partner, Tiger Woods, by 11 shots. Here’s an odd one for you as well: For the third consecutive season, Phil won in his fourth event of the season. Write that down for next year!
Young Guns vs Old Guns
In six tournaments this season, the Young vs Old argument is now 3-2-1.
For the young, Johnson Wagner (31), Brandt Snedeker (31), and Kyle Stanley (24) lead the way for the Young guys.
Mark Wilson (37) is in the middle, a half-point for each.
Steve Stricker (44) and Phil Mickelson (41) are flying the flag for the old folks on Tour.
And, that’s six-for-six this season for US players winning on Tour. A good start for a Ryder Cup year keeps getting better!
Charlie Wi: Having never won on Tour, Charlie Wi teed off on Sunday with a three-shot lead and hoped to change that. After setting the course record Thursday at MPCC with 61 and playing steady golf Friday and Saturday, Wi was in the driving seat in the last group on Sunday. Unfortunately for him he got off to the worst-possible start as he made double-bogey six on the first hole. And it took him four putts to do so. Three of those putts were from inside four feet. The air was out of the balloon. The lead was gone just five holes after making bogey on six. He could have chucked his clubs in the ocean and went home, which is what I would have done, but he battled back and closed with three-straight birdies to close to finish second alone. Wi was second in GIR but couldn’t make any putts to keep him on top the leader board when needed. He finished T66 in strokes gained-putting which is usually the best part of Wi’s game. The good news for Charile Wi is that he finished second again. The bad news is that he’s now finished second five times on Tour without winning.
Ricky Barnes: After making the cut in only two of four career starts here with his two finishes T69 and 56th, Barnes shot up the leader board with the second-lowest round of the day 67. He made only five bogeys on the week and his putting was excellent, which was not the case in 2011. Always known for having the talent, injuries have usually been the problems preventing Barnes from breaking through. This year, his best finish was 40th last week at WMPO. It’s time to put Barnes back on the radar after finishing third alone if he continues to be healthy.
Aaron Baddeley: “Badds” was good on Sunday and also fired up the leader board in closing with 67, good enough for fourth. The Aussie led the field in birdies this week with 24. After tinkering with his swing over the last few years before going back to his youth coach, it looks like Baddeley is finding joy again on the links. Baddeley and Brian Davis were the only players on the weekend to break 70 both days. This was an excellent warm-up for defending his title next week at Riviera.
Kevin Na: His T5 at WMPO last week was not enough for me to ignore his career record at Pebble Beach (2 of 4 cuts made; best finish T43). Finishing T5 again this week will grab by attention. If he would have made anything on the greens this weekend like he usually does, he would have given Mickelson a run for his money. Na played Pebble Beach on Saturday and Sunday. He didn’t make a birdie on the back nine either day. Na finished with only six bogeys on the week so it looks like he’s on track.
Dustin Johnson: After destroying Pebble Beach in round one with a nine-under 63, it looked like he was on his way to winning his third title in four years. Johnson couldn’t get lower than 70 in his last three rounds and finished T5. A double-bogey seven on 15 was too much to overcome on Sunday but it looks like his health issues are in the rearview mirror finally. If he’s healthy, he’s one of the best players on Tour evidenced by his T7 GIR and sixth in strokes gained-putting this week. Oh, and he kills it off the tee as well…
Padraig Harrington: The Irishman’s first event on Tour this season resulted in a T7. The man known for changing his swing every five minutes found a groove this week to finish T2 in birdies. Unfortunately, he made too many bogeys and doubles to seriously contend. The former Open and PGA Champion only had two rounds in the 60’s in three events coming into this week. He opened with 68-66 but only played the weekend two-under.
Ken Duke: Started the week on fire with a course-record 28 on the back nine at Pebble Beach. The roller coaster continued with 73 at Spyglass Hill. 65 at MPCC on Saturday put him in the final group with Charlie Wi on Sunday but the veteran’s putter went cold. Three bogeys to only one birdie dropped him from second to T7.
Spencer Levin: Not the same feel-good story as Kyle Stanley last week, but he showed some guts this week by clawing his way back into the top 10 (T9) with a 68 on Sunday. Levin, who blew a six-shot lead last week in Phoenix, rallied on the weekend to make seven birdies against just two bogeys. That’s five cuts in a row and consecutive top 10s. Thanks to Phil and Tiger, that will get lost in the shuffle heading to Los Angeles.
Jimmy Walker: “Dynomite!” hit the board for his second top 10 (T9) of the season after being cut last week at WMPO. A steady putter kept him going with three rounds in the 60’s this week. He had most of his success last year on the West Coast. He finished T9 here last year as well before hitting the top five at Riviera. Write that down heading into next week.
Jason Kokrak: Wins this week’s “John Huh Award” for best finish by a young, former, Nationwide or Q-School player finishing T9. Showed he has the total package this week by killing it off the tee, leading the field in GIR and finishing fifth in strokes gained-putting. His T2 in birdies made helped offset 10 bogeys and a double. After MDF at Sony in his first tournament, Kokrak had missed three consecutive cuts leading into this week.
Greg Owen: Having finished within the top five twice here over the years, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Owen finished T9 this week. After shooting 78 in the final round at Torrey Pines and finishing 72nd his last time out, it was a surprise. His only other Tour start this year was T59 at Sony. I’m definitely adding him to the “horse for course” list here next year if he keeps his card…
Kevin Streelman: Another surprise to the top 10 this week after finishing T73, CUT and CUT in his first three starts of 2011. Streelman blistered Pebble on Sunday playing his first 12 holes in six-under. He found himself one shot out of the lead but wilted down the stretch with bogeys on 16 and 17 and a double on 18. Four rounds of 70 or better will start to build confidence. If not, it’s time to call Tom Lehman.
Brendon Todd: Started out the season with T13 at Sony and T26 at Humana but faded with T76 at Torrey Pines and CUT last week at WMPO. This week, he has his best finish of the season with T9 after an eventful Sunday. Five bogeys negated five birdies and kept him from climbing higher.
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
Tiger Woods: Well, that was interesting. After getting into position on Saturday to get into position on Sunday, the "Tiger Woods Experience" continues to be just that, an experience. It’s no longer guaranteed victory. It’s no longer 35 of 35 from five feet and in on the greens. It’s no longer intimidation by the red shirt on Sundays. As it has been pointed out in many places, he would have lost 7 and 5 to Mickelson if this would have been match play. He was beaten by 11 shots in stroke play. So what’s next? WGC-Match Play. The longer he goes without winning a full-field event, the longer the questions will linger about his play. He did nothing Sunday to stop those questions.
Hunter Mahan: He started Sunday at nine-under but never could get on track. He made three bogeys before making his first birdies later in the round. Steady T15 for this week even with all of that travel.
Davis Love III: The 2012 Ryder Cup Captain had an excellent week hitting GIR where he finished T9. The question with DL3 will be can he balance the rigors of playing plus putting together a team to beat the Euros come September in Chicago. T20 finish this week shows he’s found some balance, but remember his track record at Pebble Beach is excellent.
D.A. Points: It was a nice run, but now it appears to be slowing down again for Points. Played Pebble on the weekend 74-78. His last two starts are T45 and T67. He faded last year after the West Coast swing, gamers.
Rickie Fowler: Couldn’t get out his putter’s way this week and missed the cut. He didn’t take advantage of MPCC nor Pebble Beach in the first two days, playing three-over. Needing to go low at the hardest course of the three on Saturday to make the cut didn’t happen. Back to Southern California this week where he’s more comfortable.