Mick­el­son gets out in front but can’t beat dark­ness

Lefty holds 3-shot lead when play re­sumes at 9 a.m. to­day

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - BY DOUG FER­GU­SON

PEB­BLE BEACH, Calif. — Phil Mick­el­son put him­self on the brink of a fifth vic­tory in the AT&T Peb­ble Beach pro-am by turn­ing a three­shot deficit into a three-shot lead when a wild day of weather kept him from fin­ish­ing Sun­day.

Mick­el­son was bo­gey-free with six birdies, and he 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 five-hole stretch when Mick­el­son made three birdies and Paul Casey had two bo­geys.

About the only thing that didn’t go Mick­el­son’s way was the tim­ing.

The fi­nal round started an hour late be­cause of rain, and then it was de­layed two more hours when sun­shine gave way to a hail storm in a mat­ter of min­utes, cov­er­ing the putting greens in a sheet of white.

Mick­el­son was at 18-un­der par through 16 holes. Casey had a 3-foot par putt on the same hole when Mick­el­son tried to lobby for them to fin­ish, even in the dark.

“I can see fine,” Mick­el­son told a rules of­fi­cial. “I don’t want to put Paul in a bad spot.” Play will re­sume at 9 a.m. to­day. Casey was at 15 un­der, tied with Scott Stallings, who closed with a 66. Along with an out­side chance at forc­ing a play­off, fin­ish­ing alone in sec­ond in­stead of a tie is a dif­fer­ence of $152,000, along with world rank­ing points and FedEx Cup points. Casey and FedEx ex­ec­u­tive Don Colleran had a one-shot lead in the pro-am.

“I don’t see how we can fin­ish,” Casey said as they walked up the 16th fair­way. “We can’t fin­ish two holes in six min­utes. I’d like to.”

Mick­el­son was stand­ing on the 17th tee when he heard the horn sound to stop play, and he shook his head.

The rest of his day was far bet­ter than the weather.

Mick­el­son is on the verge of win­ning for the 44th time in his ca­reer, and match­ing Mark O’Meara with five vic­to­ries at a tour­na­ment he first played in 1995.

It also would be his first vic­tory on Amer­i­can soil since the Phoenix Open six years ago. He won the Bri­tish Open that sum­mer in Scot­land, and the Mex­ico Cham­pi­onship last year.

His bril­liant play still shared the stage with weather that was bizarre even by Peb­ble stan­dards.

Mick­el­son and Casey were wait­ing to tee off when clouds moved in quickly, and rain turned into hail that pounded um­brel­las, many of them held side­ways to ac­count for the wind.

Greens quickly were cov­ered by the tiny white pel­lets, and work­ers went from us­ing squeegees for ex­cess wa­ter to power blow­ers to re­move the hail.

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

Play­ing 10 min­utes from his house, Langer closed with a 7-un­der 65 on Sun­day at The Old Course at Bro­ken Sound for a five-stroke vic­tory. The 61-year-old Ger­man star birdied five of the first seven holes in a bo­gey-free round.

Langer fin­ished at 19-un­der 197 for his 39th vic­tory on the 50-and-over tour. He also won the 2010 event and fin­ished sec­ond last year. Marco Daw­son was sec­ond af­ter a 69, Bob Estes shot a 68 to fin­ish third at 13 un­der, and David Toms was an­other stroke back af­ter a 70. Scott McCar­ron (67), Gene Sauers (69) and Woody Austin (70) were 11 un­der, and Fred Cou­ples (70) and Ken Tani­gawa (70) fol­lowed at 10 un­der.

ERIC RISBERG/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Phil Mick­el­son fol­lows his drive from the fourth tee dur­ing the fi­nal round of the AT&T Peb­ble Beach Pro-Am on Sun­day. He was 6-un­der through 16 holes when dark­ness halted play.

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