Phil in position for another Pebble win
An opportunity to win again at Pebble Beach is what Mickelson has been 'waiting for'
February 13, 2016
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Phil Mickelson is searching for his first win since the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield. (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
PEBBLE BEACH, California -- Here are a few observations from Saturday's third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am as Phil Mickelson grabbed a two-shot lead with a 66. Click here to read more in the Daily Wrap.
1. TIME FLIES: Phil Mickelson was four months shy of his 28th birthday when he won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for the first time. He's 45 and going for his fifth title in his 20th start on the Monterey Peninsula on Sunday.
A pretty good winning percentage, to say the least. And with a victory in what is one of his favorite events, Mickelson would tie Mark O'Meara for the most all-time.
"It's such a spiritual place if you love golf the way we all do," Mickelson said.
In the 49 starts since his 42nd and last PGA TOUR victory at the 2013 Open Championship, though, Mickelson has only posted six top-10s. So he's hardly getting ahead of himself -- even after shooting a bogey-free 66 that left Mickelson 16 under and with a two-stroke lead.
"I've got a little bit of work to get my ball-striking back to that level that I need to be for tomorrow's round," said Mickelson, who hasn't held a 54-hole lead since that last win at Muirfield.
Toward that end, Mickelson planned to have Andrew Getson, the swing coach he switched to during the offseason, come to Pebble Beach Saturday night so they can work out the kinks.
"I really want tomorrow to be a good day," Mickelson said.
The big left-hander actually has flirted with contention twice in his three starts of 2016. Mickelson shared third in his season's debut at the Career Builder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, starting the final round six strokes behind the eventual champ, Jason Dufner, and tied for 11th last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
"It's fun to just have a chance going into Sunday," Mickelson said. "It's great that I'm leading but it's fun to be back in the thick of it, to have a chance like I did at Phoenix or the Hope. ...
"So to head into tomorrow's round at Pebble Beach with an opportunity is what I've been waiting for."
Phil Mickelson captures the 54-hole lead at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
2. QUICK TURNAROUND: Jimmy Walker also has had quite a bit of success at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He won the tournament in 2014 and has posted top-10 finishes in four of his last five starts on the Monterey Peninsula, shooting a cumulative 55 under.
The 63 he shot at Pebble Beach on Saturday, though, was Walker's career low on the storied links and moved him to 9 under. It was the first time he'd broken 70 this week and even though he trails Mickelson by seven, Walker finally has some momentum for the final round.
"I kind of keyed in on some swing stuff, slowing the back swing down, and then got a couple of putts to go in, which just hadn't been happening," Walker said.
Walker actually had gotten off to a promising start to the week, shooting 3 under on his first nine holes at Spyglass Hill. But he ended up playing his next 27 holes in 3 over and was, in his own words, bummed.
"But today everything kind of just fell into place," Walker said.
The Texan started on No. 10 and made bogey but he turned in 34, then really got things going on the front nine with a pair of eagles and three birdies. Walker hit a 3-iron to 12 feet at No. 2 and a 4-iron to 18 feet at the sixth.
Not to mention, the 60-degree wedge he hit from 124 yards at the ninth hole hung on the lip or he would have had a trio of eagles.
"You've got to hit proper golf shots around here and it rewards shot-making," Walker said. "I think you've got to fight the winds and you've got to fight the downhills and you really got to have control of your golf ball and you've got to use your imagination."
Mission accomplished on Saturday.
3. LIFE IS GOOD: Freddie Jacobson missed the final five months of last season after his youngest child, Max, was diagnosed with a heart defect.
The 7-year-old had successful open-heart surgery in August, though. So by the start of the 2015-16 PGA TOUR campaign two months later, the Swede was able to concentrate on his game again.
Jacobson came to Pebble Beach on the heels of a tie for fourth at the Farmers Insurance Open, his second top-five finish in seven starts this season. And he enters the final round in a third-place tie with Sung Kang at 13 under, three behind Mickelson.
So what is his secret? Besides the peace of mind Jacobson has now that his son's health has improved so much, of course.
"Well, I think that I worked really hard coming into the season because I was gone for five months last year," he said. "So I think I got some good training done with my team and working out and eating well and stuff like that."
Jacobson also worked with his equipment sponsor, Callaway, to fine-tune his driver, using a newer model and adjusting the loft.
"That's worked really well to keep it in play," Jacobson said. "So, if I can drive the ball good, when I'm on my iron play and my putting and that is normally pretty good.
"So that's been the key, I think, for these top-five weeks that I've been kind of rolling around a little more steady. So that's kind of what I'm looking for."
QUOTE OF THE DAYHe's going to calm me down a little bit. I think that's going to help a lot tomorrow.
CALL OF THE DAY
Phil Mickelson shows off his iconic short game at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Free play-by-play coverage of the final round streams from 2-7 p.m. ET Sunday on PGATOUR.COM.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Phil Mickelson drains 32-foot chip shot for the Shot of the Day
Yes, that is correct.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 14, 2016
Jimmy Walker carded seven 3s on his closing nine.
He jumped 64 spots to T11 after a 63. pic.twitter.com/yva1ZAQEXu