As many predicted years ago, Phil Mickelson has won a 2019 PGA Tour event at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
It was not the U.S. Open, Phil’s famous white whale, but it was the next best thing: a co-record fifth career title at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Mickelson came into Sunday at Pebble Beach Golf Links three strokes behind world No. 24 Paul Casey, but with a brilliant bogey-free 7-under 65 to reach 19-under-par for the week, the 48-year old legend won by three strokes over Casey.
Despite needing the last two holes to be played on Monday, due to rain and hail, Mickelson never looked the slightest bit pressured.
Now, having dominated Pebble Beach, Phil will be a strong favorite to take the U.S. Open, an event which will be contested at the iconic Northern California course, and an event he’s finished runner-up a mind-boggling six times.
Not that it will be the same course: the conditions at Pebble in June will be much, much tougher, the field will be much, much stronger, and the pressure will be as stout as anything Phil has ever felt in his nearly 30 year career.
Mickelson even acknowledged as much in a post-victory interview, saying that the win this week means “nothing” in terms of his chances at Pebble in June at the U.S. Open, but still, playing the course so flawlessly has to have a positive effect on his confidence when he and the rest of the world’s best tee it up on the iconic course this Father’s Day weekend.
As for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, it was Phil’s 44th career PGA Tour victory, which leaves him just one short of legendary 11-time major championship winner Walter Hagen for 8th on the all-time wins list. The win also marks his second victory in the past year after having gone through a frustrating five-year trophy drought. He now has a real shot at 50 career PGA Tour titles, long a goal for him, but one that was looking increasingly unlikely with each winless season from 2013-2017.
Another thing we have not mentioned: Phil is 48 years old and STILL playing THIS well. He now becomes the oldest champion in the history of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he looks nowhere near done.
Final Leaderboard: Top 10
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1 Phil Mickelson -19 (-7)
2 Paul Casey -16 (-1)
3 Scott Stallings -15 (-6)
4 Jason Day -13 (-4)
4 Si Woo Kim -13 (-4)
6 Scott Langley -12 (-3)
7 Brian Gay -11 (-1)
7 Kevin Streelman -11 (-7)
7 Lucas Glover -11 (-E)
10 Max Homa -10 (-5)
10 Michael Thompson -10 (-6)
10 Chris Stroud -10 (-2)
10 Scott Piercy -10 (+1)
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
14 Jim Furyk -9 (-2)
22 Matt Kuchar -7 (-2)
22 Patrick Reed -7 (-3)
22 Rafa Cabrera Bello -7 (+2)
28 Ernie Els -6 (-1)
28 Branden Grace -6 (+2)
38 Tony Finau -5 (-2)
45 Tommy Fleetwood -4 (-1)
45 Dustin Johnson -4 (-1)
45 Jordan Spieth -4 (+3)
How Phil Mickelson Won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
It took a Monday finish, but the AT&T Pebble Beach was not in doubt overnight. Mickelson had come into Sunday’s weather-delayed action three strokes behind Casey, but at least as Sunday was concerned, it was all Phil.
Mickelson and Casey both birdied the par-5 second hole, but from there, the front nine was all pars for Casey, while Mickelson added birdies on Nos. 4 and 9 to sit just one stroke behind Casey at the turn.
The back nine went even more in Mickelson’s favor, as a birdie at No. 10 evened things up, while Casey’s bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12 gave the five-time major winner a two-shot advantage.
After a birdie-birdie stretch by Mickelson on Nos. 14 and 15, coupled with a Casey stretch of par-birdie, ‘Lefty’ led by three. The score was still three just after Mickelson decided to finish up on the 16th hole. Casey was standing over a three-foot par putt, when the horn sounded, indicating that it was too dark to continue and the tournament would need to be finished on Monday.
At the time the horn sounded, Mickelson appeared agitated that they were unable to finish on Sunday as he “could see fine,” but Phil seemed remorseful for his attitude on Monday, saying later that Casey made the right decision to not finish on Sunday. Mickelson remarked that in the moment he was “in a bubble,” and “unable to see the big picture.”
When the action restarted on Monday morning, Mickelson played the last two holes par-birdie, while Casey did the same. In the end, Mickelson finished at 19-under while Casey took solo-second at 16-under, one stroke ahead of Scott Stallings, who shot 6-under par in the final round to take third place alone.
For the week, Mickelson led the field in birdies, shots gained: approach-the-green, and shot gained: total. Phil drew headlines on Thursday by hitting every fairway in a round for the first time since 1998, but even with falling significantly in that regard (he failed to hit more than 50% of the fairways in any of his final three rounds), his iron game was more than good enough to carry the slack.
The victory was Mickelson’s fifth career title in the event, tying him with Mark O’Meara for the most in tournament history.
What It Means For Phil Mickelson
Phil winning is hardly unusual on Tour, but being able to show this kind of brilliance in a big event at the age of 48 really speaks highly of his Hall Of Fame career. He has experienced something a resurgence in the past 12 months, and is likely to notch more age-related records.
Off the strength of this victory and a 2nd place finish at last month’s Desert Classic, Mickelson jumps to 6th in the current FedExCup standings, and will move to No. 17 (from 29th) in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Nobody realizes more than Phil that Pebble will be playing much differently for the U.S. Open in June, but that will not stop him from being considered among the favorites when the year’s second major commences. The last time the U.S. Open was held at Pebble Beach (2010), Phil finished T4. The time prior (2002), he was 16th.
Mickelson looked impermeable to Sunday pressure while in contention, but another man in the field tied him for the final round’s lowest score.
Kevin Streelman used four consecutive birdies from hole Nos. 4-7 to match Mickelson’s 65, although it was not bogey-free. Streelman, a 40-year-old with two career PGA Tour titles, jumped 29 spots on the final day to finish T7.
Former world No. 1 Jason Day, who took runner-up honors at this event last year, enjoyed another strong Pebble Beach Sunday, shooting a 4-under 68 to reach 13-under par, good for a T4 finish.
In regards to Day, the rest of the Tour should be alarmed that Day finished so high in a week where his elite short-game was a struggle. The 30-year-old Day looks close to notching his 13th victory on Tour.
Pebble Beach was especially good this week to little-known Max Homa. After stumbling out of the game with a 73, the 28-year-old California native shot a final round 5-under 67, his third consecutive round in the 60s to finish T10, just his third top 10 in 62 career starts.
The T10 looks especially impressive when factoring in that Homa had made just two cuts in his first eight events of the new season. For his career, he has only made the weekend 21 times in those 62 starts.
The final round ended up being more of the same for Casey, who has now lost each of his three career PGA Tour events where he’s held the 54-hole lead, and in each of those three, he led by multiple strokes going into the finale.
A 1-under 71 was good enough to take solo-second, but it continued questions of the ability to close for the 40-year-old Brit who is still looking for his first career major victory. Casey’s two bogeys in the final round matched his total over the first three rounds combined, which gave him the field low for the week.
Unfortunately for him, he was not able to take advantage of his position on enough holes.
Among the final top-10, only one man was over par on his final round: Scott Piercy. The 40-year-old San Diego State product had three bogeys against two birdies on Sunday en route to a 1-over 73, falling from third to T10.
Piercy played well off the tees, but struggled badly with his putting at Pebble Beach.
It appeared that the recently-struggling Jordan Spieth was on the verge of busting out of his year-long slump when he reach 9-under par for the event after opening with rounds of 66 and 68. The 25-year old Texan then imploded down the stretch on Saturday with two double bogeys over his final six holes, and was even worse on Sunday. With just two birdies to five bogeys in the final round, Spieth shot a 3-over 75, and turned a probable top-10 into a T45. A myriad questions continue to surround the three-time major champion.
On how this win will help him prepare for the 2019 U.S. Open, which will be contested at Pebble Beach Golf Links in June 2019.
“Absolutely nothing. Very simply, it’s nothing like the course we’ll see. I’m hitting drivers and I’m trying to bomb it down there and hit wedges in, and the rough will be so different, and the greens will be so firm, it will be a whole different golf course, but I’ll deal with that in six months.”
– Phil Mickelson
Final Scores, Money and Points
Pebble Beach Golf Links | Pebble Beach, CA | February 11, 2019