February 13, 2012 in Sports

Mickelson steals show on final day

 
Els backs in to tourney

 Ernie Els can plan on a trip to Arizona for the Match Play Championship – just barely.

 Sunday was the final week to qualify for the first World Golf Championship of the year, and the Match Play takes the top 64 players off the world ranking. Pebble Beach winner Phil Mickelson is not playing that week, so Els gets the final spot at No. 65.

 Luke Donald is the No. 1 seed for the event which runs Feb. 20-26.

Whether it was the 38-foot par putt that Phil Mickelson pounded in just after Tiger Woods had gotten everyone revved up with a birdie or Mickelson’s spectacular eagle on the par-five sixth hole, or Mickelson’s sweet hug with wife Amy or her eagerly enthusiastic words, “What a round. Are you kidding me?” all the best moments Sunday belonged to Phil.

Mickelson, 40, who had started the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tied for fourth place and six shots out of the lead, surged to a day’s best of 8-under-par 64 to win his fourth Pebble Beach tournament and earn the 40th PGA Tour title of his career.

And what was supposed to be an enthralling head-to-head battle turned into a rout. Woods, paired with Mickelson in the second-to-last group, shot a 75 and finished tied for 15th, nine shots back, and never put pressure on Mickelson.

“It feels great to win this tournament,” Mickelson said. “I felt like my game was so close heading into the season and yet my scores hadn’t reflected how I felt I was playing.”

Charlie Wi, who had led after each of the first three rounds, finished second, two shots behind Mickelson, whose 269 total was 17 under par.

Woods’ implosion was most notable on the final three holes of the front nine – he bogeyed them all and with each missed putt or poorly struck iron, Woods’ body talked more loudly than his game. His walk slowed, his shoulders hung limply, his face turned gloomy.

“What was frustrating,” Woods said, “is that I had a chance and all I had to do was get off to a good, solid start and I didn’t do that. I was one under par through six. Phil was five under.”

Because Mickelson jumped ahead of Woods so quickly and overwhelmingly, there was never much opportunity for the large gallery following the group to get involved.

The one time there was a roar heard came on the the 12th hole when Woods sank his shot from the bunker for a birdie. Mickelson was looking at a 38-foot par putt and there was an opportunity for a two-shot swing. But Mickelson made the putt to save par and cruised to the victory.

LPGA Tour

American teenager Jessica Korda won the Women’s Australian Open in Melbourne for her first LPGA Tour title, holing a 25-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a six-player playoff.

Korda, 18, is the daughter of Petr Korda, who won the 1998 Australian Open tennis tournament.

Korda closed with a 1-over 74 to finish at 3-under 289 at Royal Melbourne.

Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Julieta Granada, So Yeon Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo also were in the playoff, played in threesomes on the par-4 18th. All six players made pars on the first extra hole. On the second playoff hole, Lewis, Lincicome, Granada and Seo made pars and Ryu had a bogey.

Champions Tour

Corey Pavin made a 12-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Peter Senior and win the Allianz Championship for his first Champions Tour title at Broken Sound in Boca Raton, Fla.

Both players shot a final-round 71 to finish tied at 11-under 205. Senior forced the playoff with a birdie on the last hole of regulation, but his birdie try in the playoff stopped an inch short of the cup.

European Tour

Rafael Cabrera-Bello won the Dubai Desert Classic, shooting a 4-under 68 to beat Lee Westwood and Stephen Gallacher by one shot for his second European Tour victory.


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