Phil Mickelson sure knows how to make news. A week after being panned for hinting that he might move out of California because of the state’s high taxes, Mickelson showed everyone that he still moves around the golf course pretty well too.
Mickelson became the first wire-to-wire winner on the PGA Tour since Rory McIlroy at the 2011 U.S. Open with his popular victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. It was a homecoming of sorts of Mickelson, who attended Arizona State and lived in the Valley of the Sun for 12 years.
Mickelson shot a 4-under 67 in his final round 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 won after struggling the previous two weeks in California stops – tying for 37th at La Quinta in his opener and 51st at Torrey Pines.
“It's an important one for me, because it's been a while since I won, been a while since I've been in contention,” Mickelson said after his final round. “I think the thing I'm most excited about was the way I was able to regain control of my thoughts after a few shots early on that I didn't care for.”
Mickelson missed a chance for a 59 in the first round when his birdie putt on the final hole caught the right edge of the cup, curled 180 degrees and stayed out. He settled for a 60 and followed with rounds of 65 and 64 to take a six-stroke lead into the final round.
“I think that sets up the tone for the rest of the year,” Mickelson said, “because I really started to play well.”
Brandt Snedeker finished second, four strokes back after closing with a 65.
“Sometimes you have to tip your hat and say, ‘Phil played unbelievable and deserved to win.’ That's kind of what this week was all about,” he said.
It was the third wire-to-wire victory and first since the 2006 BellSouth Classic for Mickelson, who pushed his career victory total to 41. It was also Mickelson’s 24th appearance at the event in Phoenix, and he joined Mark Calcavecchia, Arnold Palmer and Gene Littler as the tournament’s only three-time winner.
The final-round crowd was estimated at 58,791 for a weekly total of 525,821. ...
Mickelson now has a 10-year winning streak, the longest active run on the PGA Tour, and he has victories in 20 seasons, third behind Sam Snead (24) and Jack Nicklaus (21).