February 23, 2009 in Sports

Mickelson recovers for Riviera win

Associated Press
 
Tags:golfpga
Associated Press photo

Phil Mickelson was two shots down with three holes to play.
(Full-size photo)

Phil Mickelson made back-to-back birdies before saving par on No. 18 to earn a one-shot victory Sunday in the Northern Trust Open at Los Angeles.

Mickelson went from a four-shot lead at the start of the final round to a two-shot deficit with three holes to play. But he hit 9-iron to 5 feet for birdie on the 16th, holed a 6-foot birdie on the 17th and saved par with a 6-foot putt on the final hole.

He closed with a 1-over 72 to become only the fourth player to win in consecutive years at Riviera.

Steve Stricker closed with a 67 and was on his way to the range to get ready for a playoff when he saw Mickelson leave himself a tough par putt on the final hole, and stopped when he heard the cheer.

Fred Couples – a two-time winner at Riviera, his favorite golf course west of Augusta National – had a chance for one last victory in his final full season on the PGA Tour. The 49-year-old was one shot behind when he fanned his approach to the 18th green and watched in disgust as it struck a eucalyptus tree. He finished with a bogey for a 69 to tie for third with K.J. Choi (69) and Andres Romero (70).

Couples learned earlier in the week that his estranged wife, Thais Baker, died of breast cancer.

Mickelson finished at 15-under 269 and won for the 35th time in his career.

Champions Tour

Loren Roberts made a 3-foot birdie putt on the last hole to win The ACE Group Classic at Naples, Fla., beating Gene Jones by one stroke.

Roberts shot a 68 to finish at 7-under 209. Jones, who led by a shot coming into the final round, put up a 70.

It was Roberts’ second win in four years at Naples, and ninth overall on the Champions Tour.

He joined Lee Trevino (1990-91), Mike Hill (1993-94), Hale Irwin (1997, 2002) and Gil Morgan (1998, 2001) as two-time champions in Naples.

Roberts won $240,000 out of the $1.6 million purse.

James Mason (70), Don Pooley (70), Ben Crenshaw (68) and Bernhard Langer (69) tied for third at 5-under.

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