By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Phil Mickelson birdied nine of 16 par 3s this week and that simply lapped every other golfer at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The field played the short holes in even par, while Mickelson was 9 under. He birdied every one of those holes in the opening round. When you can write down nine deuces on your card, you’re having a great week.
Opportunities: Mickelson finished at 28 under because he had more birdie putts than anyone else in the field. Phil led the tournament, hitting 63 of 72 greens in regulation. That’s more chances to make birdie than any other player. Mickelson quickly married both speed and line on Thursday while shooting 60 and never lost his touch. He had putting rounds of 24-28-28-30 and was fifth in the field for strokes gained-putting. Phil was 40-for-40 on putts measuring 3 feet or less and was 60-for-65 on putts of 10 feet or less.
Coliseum: The par-3 16th hole was filled with 20,000 fans on Sunday but the crowd was not nearly as loud or rowdy as the previous day. James Hahn riled up the fans when he made a 19-foot birdie putt and then broke into a dance, giving his rendition of “Gangnem Style.” Padraig Harrington once again kicked footballs into the stands. Wilson sponsors Harrington and supplies the official football for the Super Bowl. Some lucky fans wound up with very nice souvenirs courtesy of Harrington.
Lucky: Mickelson birdied the seventh hole in three of four rounds, saving his best for last. He made a 56-foot, 7-inch putt that he played through the fringe, over and ridge and slammed into the back of the cup. Mickelson gave good fortune the opportunity to happen by picking a good line and speed but also admitted, “for that putt to go in was just pure luck.” Phil was so excited at making the putt, he played out of turn on the eighth tee, accidentally hitting ahead of Brandt Snedeker who also birdied the seventh and had honors. That’s a breach of courtesy but not a penalty in stroke play.
Sneds: Snedeker did everything he was supposed to do to win. He led the field in putting with rounds of 26-24-27-23 for a total of 100 strokes on the greens. He was fourth in strokes gained-putting. The only thing Snedeker did wrong was to start the final round six shots back of Mickelson. That is simply too much ground to gain.
Soft: Scoring in this tournament was determined before golfers ever arrived on site. There was heavy rain at TPC Scottsdale last weekend and more rain on Tuesday. There was standing water on some areas of the course during Wednesday’s Pro-Am. That led to soft, receptive greens and fairways that held drives. The putting surfaces never firmed and golfers simply punished par. A whopping 24 golfers did not have a three-putt the entire tournament. That's an indication of green speed, firmness and wonderful conditioning.
Final hole: In each of his weekend rounds, Mickelson hit driver off the 18th tee and simply blew it way to the left. He received a free drop from the gallery on Saturday and the rough was not severe when he drove it left of the lake on Sunday. Tournament officials may want to consider changes to the hole, increasing the penalty for playing left of the lake.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.