Mickelson on the verge of fifth AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am title
Phil Mickelson had a three-shot lead with two holes to play when the tournament was suspended
February 10, 2019
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Round 4 postponed, Phil Mickelson leads by 3 at AT&T Pebble Beach
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – It took an extra 197 days for Phil Mickelson to win his first AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
The delay will be considerably shorter to win his fifth.
That’s provided, of course, Mickelson maintains the lead for the final two holes that he’ll play Monday morning when play resumes at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. local) on Pebble Beach. He’s three shots ahead of playing partner Paul Casey, the only other player yet to finish his final round.
Thanks to a one-hour delay prior to the start of Sunday’s play, and then an additional two-plus hour delay after a hail storm arrived as the final group was on the first tee, the playing schedule was pushed back just enough to prevent Mickelson and Casey from finishing their rounds.
It wasn’t for lack of trying on Mickelson’s part, though.
Having surged to the lead with a brilliant 16 holes that included six birdies and no bogeys, Mickelson was pushing hard to finish in regulation. With darkness quickly enveloping Pebble Beach, Mickelson insisted, “I can see fine.” But Casey realized there was no way to complete two holes in six minutes, so he opted to mark his ball on the 16th green, knowing his par putt from 3 feet would be on fresh greens Monday.
Mickelson, who is at 18 under, had no problems with Casey’s decision. “I totally get where he’s coming from,” he said. “In all honestly, it’s probably a good thing because now we’ll play the last couple of holes in pure conditions and it will be helpful for both of us.”
Phil Mickelson interview after Round 4 of AT&T Pebble Beach
Casey, likewise, understood Mickelson’s stance. “The guy on the hot streak wants to keep going,” Casey said. “The guy who’s not, let’s stop.”
Casey was never able to heat up Sunday in the cold conditions – he was even par for his round -- but he’s hoping the overnight reset might give him a chance to catch Mickelson. A birdie-eagle finish at the par-3 17th and par-5 18th might be his best hope, given how Mickelson was playing Sunday.
“There’s still a glimmer,” said Casey, currently tied for second with Scott Stallings at 15 under. “I need to do something special.”
Casey also did not want to jeopardize the chance of winning the pro-am portion of the event with his amateur partner, Don Colleran. They have a one-shot lead.
At least Mickelson won’t have to wait as long as he did in 1998. That was the year that the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am could manage just 36 holes during its regularly scheduled week, suffering from the infamous “Crosby weather” that often kicks up in February.
Needing to play 54 holes to make the results official, the decision was made to play the final round at a later date when travel was convenient for players. It finally took place 6-1/2 months later on Monday, Aug. 17, the day after the PGA Championship finished in Sahalee outside Seattle. It’s the last time a TOUR event had its final round postponed and played later in the season.
Mickelson rallied in that final round, shooting a 67 to beat Tom Pernice Jr. by a stroke. That was the 13th of his 43 career TOUR victories. He also won at Pebble Beach in 2005, 2007 and 2012.
“I’ve got two difficult holes coming up and it’s been a great day so far,” said Mickelson, who made his 500th career cut on the PGA TOUR on Saturday. “I love playing this tournament, but I think the postponement is a good omen because the first time I won here was ’98. We had a … suspension of the tournament, came back and finished the final round and I had my first victory here.”
Provided he completes the task Monday, Mickelson will tie Mark O’Meara for most victories in this event. And at age 48-1/2, he would be the oldest winner of this event.
“He’s been at it for a long time, and he’s done it for awhile and he’s still winning,” said Jason Day, who finished at 13 under and a tie for fourth with Si Woo Kim. “If he plays the way he’s playing right now, he should be able to get it done pretty easy.”
It seems like a Mickelson win is a formality, but as Pebble Beach has shown in a week that started with the electricity being knocked out due to severe storms, and then hail pelting players on Sunday, nothing is really predictable around here.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of weird things that can take place,” said Stallings, who will remain on-site with his family in case of a playoff. “I think my wife has changed our flight 37 times today.”
But Mickelson, on the verge of career win No. 44, plans to take care of business.
“The tournament’s not over and a lot can happen, and we’ve got two tough holes,” he said. “But the fact is, I’m playing well and I’ve got a nice lead and I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning.”
Paul Casey interview after Round 4 of AT&T Pebble Beach