PEBBLE BEACH, California – The party was muted, even if Pebble Beach Golf Links was the brightest on Monday morning, with a clear sky and bright sun cast the Pacific Ocean, the 18th hole and Phil Mickelson in an excellent light. Mickelson turned to Paul Casey, the player he had defeated to earn his fifth Pebble Beach Pro-Am title after a long delay, to thank him for helping to produce the sublime stage work.
With Casey who wore a three-arc led to the final round, Mickelson was forced to defeat the last 18 and he produced a seven-under-65 in the final round. Mickelson's 72-hole total was 19-under-268, three strokes better than Casey, a friend and fellow Arizona alumnus.
So concentrated was Mickelson during the final round that he tried to convince Casey and tournament services to finish the last two holes in the midst of fading light Sunday evening
Casey, who eventually won the team event with his amateur partner, Don Colleran, refused to play and after they both with a par and birdie on the final holes for a robust crowd of early risers the next morning, Mickelson gave credit where it needed.
"Paul made the difficult call, but it was the right decision," Mickelson said, adding, "Sometimes I'm just in my own bubble and I do not see the big picture."
Mickelson's decision-making in the boiler of competition can sometimes be a responsibility, as evidenced by his collapse of the final hole of the US Open of 2006 on Winged Foot – or more recently, in his decision to once take a moving break during the third round of the US Open in Shinnecock Hills last year.
But when he finished his 44th PGA Tour victory this week, Mickelson, 48, was a study in restraint. After his birdie putt fell on the 18th hole, he grabbed the ball from the hole as if he were taking a package from his front stoop. It was Mickelson's second win in almost a year – he won the World Golf Championships event in Mexico City last March – and his first on US soil in 2199 days, since he captured the 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Any victory is special in Pebble Beach, a historic location with personal resonance for Mickelson and his family, but he hopes for a more meaningful party on the 18th green in June, for the 119th US Open – the only major tournament that Mickelson did not win
Can he beat gold on Pebble Beach in the same year? Two men have proved that it is possible; Jack Nicklaus in 1972, on his way to a season with seven victories, and Tiger Woods in 2000, when he won nine PGA Tour events. Nicklaus was in his years & # 39; 30 in 1972 and Woods in his years & 20 in 2000, both at the height of their powers.
Mickelson becomes 49 on the last day of the US Open this year, and a win would be the oldest gentlemen big champion, surpassing Julius Boros, who was 48 when he won the PGA from 1968 Championship. Mickelson's younger brother and caddy, Tim, suggested that people lose Mickelson's chances at their own risk.
"He has won twice in the last eleven months," said Tim Mickelson, adding, "It clearly shows that he can still win.
Mickelson & # 39 ; s game seems to be both aging and the bottle of Romanée-Conti wine from 1990 that he drank from the Claret Jug after winning the 2013 British Open.He has a second and a scoop in his last three starts – with a missed cut in the Phoenix Open in between.The revival of Mickelson and the 43-year-old Woods has made the men's game infinitely more attractive.
"I believe that if I do my best, if Tiger does his best, it's good enough is to win on a week, "Mickelson said, adding:" I think both myself and Tiger will have a very, very good year. "
Mickelson and Woods have both recently found their way to the winning circle than either Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy, and just like Mickelson, Spieth and McIlroy are all an important title in completing a career Grand Slam. 29, gets his chance first, at the Masters in April, Spieth & # 39; s turn will come next, at the PGA Championship in May.
And then the spotlight will land like a laser beam at Mickelson, who his first major as pro played at the 1992 Open on Pebble Beach, he noted that this year was the 100th anniversary of his mother's grandfather's debut as a pre-teen caddy on Pebble Beach, where he made 25 cents a round.
During the presentation of the greenside trophy, Mickelson told the story of how his grandfather, Al Santos, who grew up in Monterey, California, quit school in the fourth grade to help his family on support and shortly afterwards found his way to the caddy shack of Pebble Beach.
Mickelson said his grandfather was carrying a $ 1900 silver bag in his pocket while he was working, and passed it on to Mickelson, who uses it as a ball marker when he plays here. Mickelson now describes the place as special, but after missing the cut at the US Open in 1992, he skipped the Tourstop here in 1993 and 1994.
"I do not know that I had a good idea of the overall importance of the tournament for the game and what it offers and how much I like the place," explained Mickelson in 2012.
Playing Pebble Beach has taught Mickelson not to take anything for granted. He followed after 36 holes in 1996 with two strokes, but never had the chance to carry out an attack because bad weather lost the last two rounds. Two years later, Mickelson successfully survived Mother Nature and the field for his first Pebble Beach Pro-Am title.
In 1998, the first two rounds of the tournament were played in stormy weather in February, making the track soft and the greens slow and the last round took place under strong sunlight in August, and the race was fast and solid – as it should be in June for the US Open. In winning his first pro-am title, Mickelson may have received the blueprint for realizing his last major goal in golf.
"I have such great memories here," Mickelson said. "I would like to add it."
But Mickelson added that he did not want to let himself look any further than the Masters. He has fixed himself for so long on winning the American Open, but this week he taught him the beauty that can reward those who see the big picture.