February 20 2012
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
The warm-up: Phil Mickelson has always warmed up differently than other PGA TOUR players. He likes to arrive at the course early and hit balls, then go into the locker room and rest before his round begins. He further altered that routine on Sunday with an unusual array of shots. On the range, Phil went from driver to wedge, back to a driver, then a mid-iron. Most players warm-up about an hour before their tee time and methodically work their way through the bag starting with wedge and ending with driver.
The closer: The last three holes at Riviera Country Club offer a great finish with a par-3, par-5 and par-4. Bill Haas played that stretch in 3-under par this weekend. Keegan Bradley was also 3 under while Mickelson was just 1 under.
Drive for show: Dustin Johnson has the ability to overpower a golf course with his driver but lacked the finesse on Sunday to win the tournament. Two shots stand out: At the 12th hole, he drove the ball 338 yards but missed the green from just 118 yards away. On the 18th hole, Johnson needed to chip in to tie for the lead, instead he bladed his chip over the green and made bogey. Johnson is such a good athlete, he will eventually figure out his short game troubles.
Strong finish: The first 73 players on Sunday combined to make a total of six birdies at the 18th hole, so the odds were against Mickelson and Bradley on that final hole. The twosome beat the odds, both making birdies. Bradley was so excited for Mickelson, he walked over to fist-bump the lefthander, then immediately got back into his concentration mode and rolled home his own birdie to force a three-way playoff.
Decision-making: Golfers do not mind hitting difficult golf shots, but they hate to make decisions. That’s what makes the 10th at Riviera such a great hole. It’s only 310 yards long but there are a half-dozen ways to attack. Mickelson and Bradley hit 3-woods off the 10th in the playoff, while Haas hit driver. The distance wasn’t as important as the angle of attack into the hole cut on the right side. Both Mickelson and Bradley short-sided themselves and could not get up and down. Haas had a much better angle from the left side and the discipline to play away from the back right hole location. His 40-foot birdie putt then won the tournament.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio and is inside the ropes this week at the Northern Trust Open. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.