The steam coming off his head within the Sunday evening gloaming at Pebble Seaside was undoubtedly as a result of frigid air that permeated the event, though few can be shocked if Phil Mickelson actually was seething over the concept he would not be allowed to complete regardless of two holes to play in enveloping darkness.
His path to victory nowadays is rarely going to be mundane, even in a event the place he went a complete spherical with out lacking a fairway — a 20-year first.
And certain sufficient, he managed to go to unknown components of the Monterey Peninsula with a couple of wayward tee photographs, endured a soggy, bone-numbing array of 5-plus-hour rounds, waited out a Sunday hailstorm that for a time whitened the course, made up a Three-shot deficit on Paul Casey after which — with victory imminent — all however pleaded to complete when all that will have been seen was his chattering enamel.
Phil Mickelson is aware of his approach round Pebble Seaside. He is now received there 5 occasions. Can he make it six in June on the U.S. Open? Cliff Hawkins/Getty Photographs
Little doubt, Mickelson needed to get residence to Southern California on Sunday evening, and he clearly wasn’t involved about squandering an opportunity at victory as a result of he could not see what he was doing. Phil was on a roll, and needed to complete it off.
As an alternative, he needed to return early Monday morning to finish his 44th PGA Tour victory, claiming a fifth AT&T Pebble Seaside Nationwide Professional-Am whereas additionally changing into the eighth-oldest winner in PGA Tour historical past.
How spectacular was Phil’s win at Pebble Seaside? This is how:
• Fifth win at Pebble Seaside, tying Mark O’Meara for many ever.
• First Monday winner at Pebble since Tiger Woods received a Monday end in 2000.
• At 48, oldest winner on Tour since Davis Love received at 53 years outdated in 2015.
• Sixth win since turning 40. Solely eight gamers have extra Tour wins after turning 40.
• One in every of three gamers (Kenny Perry, Fred Funk) in pas 50 yeas to win a number of occasions on at 47 or older.
• Win No. 44, placing him one shy of tying Walter Hagan for eighth all time.
For years, Mickelson, 48, has rebuffed discuss of his age, selecting to concentrate on points that inspired him going ahead even via a four-year stretch with no victory.
Whether or not it was persevering with to be part of U.S. Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup groups, discovering a brand new exercise routine, altering coaches, discovering a more healthy food plan, befriending — and needling — tour gamers who’re younger sufficient to be his son, Mickelson did his finest to remain younger.
The latest discovery was one thing he dropped after Friday’s spherical about some additional distance he picked up.
“So on the finish of final 12 months, despite the fact that I performed poorly, I had one thing occur the place it appeared like in a single day — it had actually been within the works — the place my driver pace shot up 5, 6 miles an hour, which hardly ever ever occurs to anyone, not to mention any individual of their late 40s,” he mentioned. “In order that led me to be fairly optimistic heading into this 12 months.
“I feel that is going to result in some good issues. If you are going to be crooked off the tee, you certain as heck higher be lengthy and that is sort of the way in which I am making an attempt to method it.”
Mickelson now has a runner-up end on the Desert Basic and a victory in 4 begins this season. A missed reduce in Phoenix, Mickelson mentioned, was due partly to a driver experimentation that he shortly deserted.
That additionally led him to enter this week’s Genesis Open, which he had not deliberate to play, previous to defending a title on the WGC-Mexico Championship subsequent week.
He’s now ranked 17th on this planet and has positioned himself for a run at one other Presidents Cup staff. It is a outstanding turnaround because the last-place end on the Tour Championship and awful Ryder Cup efficiency.
Undoubtedly Mickelson would be the topic of appreciable conjecture when the golf world returns to Pebble Seaside in June for the 119th enjoying of the U.S. Open, the foremost that defines Lefty’s bouts of futility greater than something. Six runner-up finishes, some in probably the most heartbreaking vogue, dot his profession, the event retaining him from a profession Grand Slam.
No person has ever received a significant championship on the age Mickelson is at now, however then once more, not too many gamers have had the arrogance to play two holes primarily blindfolded — as he needed to do to complete this off Sunday evening as a substitute of Monday morning.
The course might be utterly totally different in June, with the tough taller and the greens firmer and no amateurs to take the sting off the proceedings. However that discuss is for a special day.
Pebble, in fact, would supply the right symmetry for such a storybook triumph. It’s the place he started his skilled profession on the 1992 U.S. Open. And it’s the place he’ll flip 49 on the ultimate day of the 2019 U.S. Open.
A dream? Maybe. However you possibly can guess Mickelson sees such a situation enjoying out clear as day.