Mick­el­son on the cusp, stalled by wild weather

The Washington Post - - SPORTS -

Phil Mick­el­son had ev­ery­thing go his way Sun­day in the Peb­ble Beach (Calif.) Pro-Am.

He just couldn’t beat the dark­ness.

On a wild day of weather — even by Peb­ble Beach stan­dards — sun­shine gave way to a hail­storm that cov­ered the greens in a sheet of white in a mat­ter of min­utes. The de­lay kept Mick­el­son from fin­ish­ing off a re­mark­able rally in which he turned a three-shot deficit against Paul Casey into a three-shot lead un­til it was too dark to fin­ish the last two holes.

Mick­el­son at least wanted to try.

“I can see fine,” he said to a PGA Tour rules of­fi­cial as they walked up the 16th fair­way. “I don’t want to put Paul in a bad spot.”

Casey sim­ply couldn’t see and re­al­ized it was not pos­si­ble to fin­ish all 18 holes — “We can’t fin­ish two holes in six min­utes,” he said to the of­fi­cial — he opted to mark his ball on the 16th green.

Mick­el­son al­ready made his par on the 16th and was 6 un­der par for the day, with no bo­geys on his card, and 18 un­der for the tour­na­ment.

Casey has a three-foot par putt to stay three shots be­hind when they re­turn Mon­day morn­ing to play the par-3 17th and the par-5 18th. Lost in the late start — a one hour de­lay from rain, a two-hour sus­pen­sion from hail — was sheer bril­liance from the 48-year-old Mick­el­son, who didn’t come re­motely close to mak­ing a bo­gey and was on the cusp of a fifth vic­tory in the Peb­ble Beach ProAm.

His first one also was a Mon­day fin­ish, when play­ers re­turned in Au­gust 1998 — more than six months later — to fin­ish the third round of the weather-plagued tour­na­ment to make it of­fi­cial.

“We’ve got two tough holes left, and I don’t want to jump the gun and get past that,” Mick­el­son said.

“I know a lot can hap­pen in these two holes, and they have hap­pened in the past, so I want to stay fo­cused and just come out to­mor­row and try to fin­ish it off. I wish we could do it tonight.”

Mick­el­son made his big run start­ing with a 9-iron to a foot be­hind the cup on the par-4 ninth. That was start of a five­hole stretch in which Mick­el­son made three birdies and Casey had two bo­geys, tak­ing Lefty from two be­hind to three ahead.

“I didn’t make any­thing. I hit some good golf shots and didn’t get any­thing out of it to­day,” Casey said. “Phil has put to­gether a spec­tac­u­lar round of golf so far — 6 un­der, no dropped shots. Re­mark­able stuff.”

PGA TOUR CHAM­PI­ONS: Bern­hard Langer made him­self right at home in the Oa­sis Cham­pi­onship in Boca Ra­ton, Fla.

Play­ing 10 min­utes from his house, the 61-year-old Ger­man star closed with a 7-un­der 65 in windy con­di­tion at the Old Course at Bro­ken Sound for a five-stroke vic­tory.

LPGA AND EURO­PEAN TOURS: Ce­line Boutier of France claimed a two-stroke vic­tory in the LPGA’s Vic Open in Bar­won Heads, Aus­tralia, while Scot­land’s David Law made an ea­gle on the par-5 18th to win the men’s ti­tle by a stroke over Aus­tralians Brad Kennedy and Wade Ormsby.

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