Monday Finish: Long proves it's anyone's game
At age 31, earns first PGA TOUR win in only his sixth TOUR start
January 21, 2019
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Adam Long wins at Desert Classic
Playing alongside a Hall of Famer and Canada’s brightest star, unheralded rookie Adam Long, 31, rolls in a 15-foot birdie on the 72nd hole to shoot 65 and pull off a stunning victory over Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin at the Desert Classic.
Welcome to the Monday Finish, where Long won to earn spots in select fields like THE PLAYERS Championship, Sentry Tournament of Champions, the Masters, and the PGA Championship. He also jumps to the front of the line in the Rookie of the Year race.
As ever on TOUR, one week can change everything.
1. It’s anyone’s game.
We’ll say it again: There’s staggering depth on the PGA TOUR, where anyone can win in any given week.
Long had one professional victory, on the Hooters Tour in 2011. A TOUR rookie this season, he was 20 over par in his previous five starts, which included four missed cuts. His best result was a T63 at the Safeway Open last fall. He was supposed to be an alternate at this week’s Farmers Insurance Open. (He’s in now!)
In light of all that, how do you explain his final-round 65 at the tough PGA West Stadium Course, the second-best round of the day, to reach 26 under par and win?
“I had nothing to lose,” said Long, who birdied the first two holes to settle his nerves.
2. Maybe Phil gets 50 wins, after all.
Mickelson said he would reach 50 wins on TOUR after he picked up No. 43 at the World Golf Championship-Mexico Championship nearly a year ago. It seemed optimistic, given that he’d just broken a nearly five-year win drought going back to the 2013 Open Championship.
Now, though, who knows? After predicting some rust in his first start of the 2019 calendar year, Mickelson threatened 59 before settling for a 60 in the first round. He shot his lowest 54-hole score, led the field in driving distance (318.2 yards), and at 48 looked uber-competitive.
OK, so he didn’t win, settling for his 36th career runner-up after failing to birdie the last hole. He fell to 25-for-40 when entering the final round with the lead/co-lead, including failures to win six of the last seven times he held the lead going into the final round. But give him even an average putting week in the desert (he was an uncharacteristic 64th of 73 players who made the cut in Strokes Gained: Putting) and Mickelson practically waltzes to victory.
Maybe 50 wins isn’t such a crazy idea, after all.
3. Hadwin is a desert demon.
The co-runner-up continued to cement his status as Canada’s best player. Hadwin’s third top-10 finish of the season puts him 13th in the FedExCup, and was his third straight top-three finish in the Desert Classic. He was runner-up last year, too, when he shot a third-round 59.
He also delighted the throngs of Canadians who flock to the desert to escape the winter chill.
The bad news, which was not all that bad, was that he missed a five-foot putt on 12 that would have given him a four-shot lead, then went 1-over the rest of the way to come up just short.
“It’s golf,” Hadwin said. “I made a bunch of putts all week and then honestly I was kind of battling it a little bit swing-wise. I didn’t quite have it like I did the first three days.”
4. Chipping and putting told all.
Long was 6-for-6 in scrambling in the final round, chipped in twice on the back nine (No. 12/15’8’’ and No. 15/20’6’’), and needed just 98 putts for the week, fewest of anyone. That was also tied for the fewest putts on TOUR this season, with Kiradech Aphibarnrat at the WGC-HSBC Champions. Long played tidy golf, from start to finish.
Now consider Mickelson, who rode a putting revival to a solid season in 2018 but missed a four-footer to start the final round Sunday. He later missed twice from 5-7 feet, gave up 3.2 strokes on the greens for the day, and admitted, “I felt awful with the putter.”
5. Long (shot) gave others hope.
No knock on Long, but if he can win, a lot of others have to feel hopeful that they can, too.
After all, many boasted credentials equal to or greater than the winner going into last week. Long was 13th on the Web.com Tour Regular Season money list last season, earning his call-up to the TOUR, and had a career-best finish of T63 at the Safeway Open, his only made cut this season. Prior to the Safeway he had just one TOUR start, at the 2011 U.S. Open.
Yes, the Desert Classic put wind in Long’s sails, but it should invigorate others, too, starting with his 20 fellow rookies and those who have been knocking on the door for years.
1. Long is the first player to win in his sixth TOUR start or earlier since Smylie Kaufman at the 2015 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. After coming into the Desert Classic with a career low of 66, he shot three scores of 65 or better last week, including first- and third-round 63s.
2. Mickelson has failed to convert in six of the last seven tournaments in which he has held at least a share of the 54-hole lead, and this marked the second straight time he has taken a two-shot lead into the final round and not won (2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am).
3. Hadwin led the field in par-5 scoring average (4.13). He is 84-under for his last 16 rounds in the tournament, and 96-under in his last 20.
4. With 98 putts, Long led the field but was only one of three players to take 100 or fewer strokes on the greens. The others were Sam Burns (T18) and Brian Stuard (T40), who took 100 each.
5. Defending champion Jon Rahm finished sixth in his attempt to become the first back-to-back winner in the desert since Johnny Miller in 1975-’76. Daniel Berger (68, T12) enjoyed his best finish since his T6 at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills last summer. Talor Gooch (4th/-24) earned his first top-10 finish in his 33rd TOUR start.
The Wyndham Rewards Top 10 is in its first season and adds another layer of excitement to the FedExCup Regular Season. The top 10 players at the end of the FedExCup Regular Season will earn bonus payouts from the Wyndham Rewards Top 10.
There were no changes in the top 10, but Adam Long made a massive leap from 205th at the start of the week, when he was ahead of just 13 other players, to 12th. Meanwhile, co-runners up Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin move up to 28th and 13th, respectively.
Rank Rank last week Player What Top 10 gets (End of Regular Season) 1. 1st
Xander Schauffele $2 million 2. 9th
$1.5 million 3. 3rd
$1.2 million 4. 2nd
$1.1 million 5. 4th
Charls Howell III
$1 million 6. 7th
$850,000 7. 5th
$700,000 8. 6th Brooks Koepka
$600,000 9. 8th Cameron Champ
$550,000 10. 31st