American Phil Mickelson took his six-shot, 54-hole lead and made it stand up on Sunday as he defeated fellow countryman Brandt Snedeker by four shots at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale. American Scott Piercy’s final round 61 saw him take the final spot on the podium. Mickelson opened play on Thursday with a 60 that was almost 58 and never looked back. He completed play on Sunday with 67, his worst round of the week by two shots, to tie Mark Calcavecchia’s tournament record of 28-under par 256. With this victory, his 41st on TOUR, Mickelson earns 500 FedExCup points and $1,116,000. He joins Johnny Miller, “the Desert Fox”, with six career wins in the state of Arizona and joins Mark Calcavecchia, Gene Littler and Arnold Palmer as the only three-time winners of this tournament.
Phil Mickelson now has at least one win on TOUR in the last 10 season which is great for gamers in season-long leagues who have drafted him (If you’re curious, Dustin Johnson is second with six-straight seasons). After beginning the season T37 and T51, Mickelson was off to his normal slow start and was frustrating gamers everywhere. All I have to do is write Mickelson off and he starts playing well. Unlike the last four years where Mickelson won in his fourth outing of the season, he “snapped” out of it one tournament earlier this season. His new driver is striping the ball; his iron game was unbelievably sharp as he led the event in GIR and proximity to the hole; his pencil-grip putting was knocking in the short ones and the ridiculously long ones. If his entire game is up and functioning, it’s no surprise with his talent and ability that he dominated this week. It’s just too bad for gamers that he gave us no indication that he was going to fire it up THIS week. Going wire-to-wire is considered “fired up” in my world.
For the second week in a row, Golf has seen its current King and Prince do what they do best on the weekend. Tiger Woods and Mickelson have combined for 126 total TOUR wins and now both are on the board in 2013. Luckily, the ONLY story that was going to keep Vijay Singh and his Deer Antler Spray PED story off the front page was a shot at 58 and a convincing Mickelson victory. Lucky for us fans that Mickelson held up on the weekend. First it was Dustin Johnson at Kapalua. Then, it was Woods at Torrey Pines. Now, it was Mickelson at Scottsdale. Who will be the next heavy-hitter to win in 2013? Stay tuned!
Déjà vu All Over Again?
Spencer Levin couldn’t hold a six shot lead in the final round last year. Mickelson made his six shot lead stand up on Sunday.
Mickelson is the first wire-to-wire winner on TOUR since Rory McIlroy destroyed the field at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.
Mickelson is the first wire-to-wire winner at WMPO since Steve Jones in 1997.
Mickelson joins Zach Johnson as the only golfer to post 60 twice on TOUR. Mickelson is the only golfer to do it at the same event.
Five (four full-field) events this season and the 54-hole leader has finished the job in all five tournaments. This is the exact opposite trend of last season.
The five winners on TOUR have been Johnson (28), Henley (24), Gay (41) Woods (37) and now Mickelson (42). The “old” guys got off to a similar start last year with Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson cashing in the opening months. The only other player over 40 to win last year was Ernie Els (42 at the time) at The Open Championship.
All five winners on TOUR this season have been Americans. It won't make up for the Ryder Cup but it's a positive start!
Here’s who hit the top 10 and what we learned about them:
Brandt Snedeker: AUTO-MATIC selection if he tees it up here, period. Get out the permanent marker. Write this down. Oh and he was six under on the weekend as well so he’s playing some excellent golf. T2. This is what I wrote last week. I see nothing to add this week except his worse round in the desert was 66 on Friday. He’s played four events this season and has finished third, T23, T2 and second. Write him down again next week at Pebble Beach.
Scott Piercy: His 61 on Sunday would have been the talk of the town if Mickelson wasn’t on another planet this week. I was high on Piercy going into this season and his T13, T15, MC and solo third this week shouldn’t change anything from my angle. He made 18 birdies on the weekend to fire 64-61 after MC last week in San Diego. Nice rebound. Heck, with his all black get-up, flowing locks and 10 birdies, he KINDA looked like Mickelson on Sunday, minus the right-handedness, I know…
Ryan Moore: When we last saw Moore playing at this level it was last October in his hometown of Las Vegas as he was winning the Justin Timberlake. He hung up his spikes after that event to celebrate the birth of his first child. We can never know exactly how a new baby can affect a golfer inside the ropes but after T28 (of 30 players) and MC at Sony, Moore was exactly inspiring confidence in gamers. Was his tie tied too tightly? Was he getting enough sleep? He made only three bogeys this week to finish solo fourth so that should help gamers’ confidence levels going forward!
Ryan Palmer: It was a good week for the “Ryans” just like it was for the “Harbaughs”. Palmer finished solo fifth AFTER coughing and sputtering with a second round 73. He came charging down the stretch on Sunday as he converted eight birdies and an eagle against one bogey for 62. He backed his T6 at Humana with a solo fifth so there’s no doubt he’s off to a great start in 2013. In seven events here, this is Palmer’s second top five (T2, 2007) so let’s remember this for next year!
Bill Haas: Different year, same results! After an ice-cold start in 2012 on the west coast, Haas started playing solid golf at Torrey Pines and TPC Scottsdale before winning in a playoff at Riviera. Well, in 2013 he opened with T23 (of 30 players) at Kapalua and MC at the Humana before hitting the top 10 at Torrey Pines (T9). He bettered last year’s T19 by finishing T6 this year. It looks like he’s right on schedule!
Brendon de Jonge: Welcome to the party in 2013, de Jonge! We’ve been waiting for you! I knew it would only be a matter of time before the 2012 leader in birdies would raise up. de Jonge also was in the top 10 in GIR so any time that birdies are needed, he needs to be on your list. The reason gamers love de Jonge is that he plays TONS of events (over 30 in the last three seasons). Get this: in his previous three events, de Jonge finished T54, T47 and T15 and 12 of 14 rounds were 69 or better so I thought he was getting ready to break out. It’s his first top 10 (T6) in five events at WMPO. He rewarded those of you who were patient!
Brendan Steele: You may now write him down as definite “horse for course” as he now adds T6 this year to his T5 in 2012. Steele only made two bogeys in the final three rounds to turn in his best performance on TOUR since his T4 at the Valero Texas Open, a span of 16 events. Interestingly enough, in his last two starts at Valero, he’s won and finished T4. Help me remember this come spring time!
Matt Every: He’s now played the WMPO twice and has hit the top 10 each time after his T9 this week adds to his T8 in 2010. After MC in his first two events of the season, Every made the weekend in San Diego but only had one round in the 60’s as he finished T60. Every tends to blow REAL hot (six, top eight finishes last year) or REAL cold (nine cuts, one WD in 25 events) so it’s time to start paying attention now that he’s got it going in 2013. His best round this week was 65, so this shows me his play was solid.
Padraig Harrington: The good? He fired 64 on Thursday and 63 on Saturday in his first tournament of the season in the states and in his first appearance at WMPO. The bad? He fired 70 on Friday and 70 on Sunday to fall off the pace of the leaders. On the European Tour he opened with a solo fourth at Volvo Golf Champions and T23 at Abu Dhabi. I should have seen this coming as he opened his season last year with a T7 at Pebble Beach. Harrington made the cut in 16 of 18 events he entered in 2012 so don’t be afraid to pull the trigger this year.