Phil Mickelson touched off the 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Monday, a record-tying fifth of his career, the same way he sewed it up late on Sunday. Lefty hit a nasty knockdown shot from 175 yards on the iconic par-5 18th at Pebble to 6 feet and poured that home for birdie -- a final round 65 and the 44th win of his incredible PGA Tour career.
The bogey-free 65 was the round of the day, and it came at the perfect time for Mickelson, who trailed playing partner Paul Casey by three strokes heading into Round 4. Casey played nicely in the final round, which spanned two days because of a hail storm on Sunday, but his 71 couldn't keep pace with the way Mickelson commanded his short irons and wedges over the final 18 holes. Lefty easily cleared him by three at 19-under 268.
"It's been a very special week," Mickelson told Peter Kostis of CBS Sports. "This is a special place for me. ... To have my pro career start here and to have this victory means a lot."
Mickelson finished first in the field on his approach shots and T2 in proximity to the hole. If you saw the way he struck the ball in Round 4, it's easy to see why.
Mickelson and Casey were the only ones on the course on Monday as everyone else finished up on Sunday in the dark. Mickelson also wanted to try and get home on Sunday, but Casey called it on the 16th green, and Lefty said he was grateful for that even if he seemed perturbed in the moment. It's very on brand for Mickelson to thank his opponent for setting up a win for him.
"He really protected both of us," Mickelson said. "The greens were beat up. We had a chance today to come out on fresher greens, better weather, and I was really appreciative of that."
With the 44th win of his career, Mickelson becomes just the fourth player to win PGA Tour events 28 or more years apart. He also inches closer to Walter Hagen's mark of 45 PGA Tour wins and a potential tie for eighth all time. Billy Casper is seventh at 51. The fifth Pebble victory ties Mark O'Meara for the all-time record at that event.
We should ignore the "What if I'd told you 'Phil Mickelson wins at Pebble after a long wait' would be a headline at the start of the calendar year" storyline for now and obvious U.S. Open implications. Mickelson said after the round that this win has no bearing on what happens at the U.S. Open in June, likely because this will not be the same Pebble Beach after the USGA gets its hands on it.
Still, a victory for Mickelson at age 48 -- and nearly two victories in his first three starts of 2019! -- is remarkable. As the PGA Tour skews younger and Mickelson nears 50, it becomes more improbable for him to keep up. And yet not only is he keeping up, he's thriving, he's winning. He's dropping filthy 65s in all manner of weather with a Ryder Cup participant leading him and young bucks like Si Woo Kim and Jason Day making runs at him. Mickelson, unlike Pebble Beach, is not timeless, but you may have been fooled if you watched him play golf on Sunday and Monday. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the 2019 Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Jason Day (T4): Ignore the Sunday bank robber look and instead focus on another successful trip to Pebble Beach for the former major winner. He did the lion's share of his damage on Thursday with a 65 at Monterey Peninsula, but he backed it up with an even-par 72 on the toughest scoring day (Saturday) and a tasty 68 during the final round (he finished on Sunday). Day pretty quietly hasn't finished outside the top 25 anywhere since the Dell Technologies Championship during the FedEx Cup Playoffs last fall and should definitely be considered one of the early favorites for the Masters in April. Grade: A
Jason Day now solo 5th, posting -13. This would be Day's 8th top-15 finish in 10 career starts at Pebble Beach. He's a combined 64-under in this tournament since 2014, best of any player in that span.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) February 11, 2019
Jordan Spieth (T45): After playing beautifully for the first two days, Spieth ejected hard on Saturday. He made just three bogeys over his first 48 holes, but then finished Saturday's third round with two doubles and a bogey in the last six holes. He never recovered from that, made five more bogeys on Sunday and tumbled down the leaderboard with a 74-75 weekend on the Pebble Beach course. The issue for Spieth this week actually wasn't the putter. He finished 60th (!) in strokes gained off the tee and could muster just three birdies in his final 31 holes of play on the week. Grade: C+
Dustin Johnson (T45): It may have been even uglier for Spieth's playing partner, Dustin Johnson. After winning last week in Saudi Arabia, D.J. struggled late at a place where he's won twice and been arguably the most consistent player over the last decade. Johnson's week was less volatile than Spieth's, but a 73-73 showing at Spyglass and Pebble on Friday and Saturday respectively left him way out of the mix for a third title here. It didn't help that he played the non-par 5s in 3 over for the week. Grade: C+