Mickelson holds lead at suspended Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
PEBBLE BEACH — This one really matters to Phil Mickelson.
His grandfather, Al Santos, was a caddie at Pebble Beach. Mickelson has won the AT&T Pro-Am four times, more than any player not named Mark O’Meara. And the U.S. Open returns here in June, the one title Mickelson craves more than all others.
Oh, and one more not-so-incidental detail: He’s 48 years old.
Few players remain relevant on the PGA Tour at that age, but Mickelson keeps chugging along. He won last year’s World Golf Championship event near Mexico City, threatened to win last month’s Desert Classic (he tied for second) and put himself
in great position again Sunday at Pebble Beach.
Mickelson will return to Pebble on Monday morning to complete this year’s weather-delayed Pro-Am — with a threestroke lead over Paul Casey and Scott Stallings. Mickelson, who played 16 holes Sunday in 6-underpar, surged past Casey and moved into commanding position with two holes left.
Mickelson and Casey will resume the final round at 8 a.m. Monday. Admission will be free and no ticket is required for spectators.
This would be the most meaningful of Mickelson’s victories at Pebble, in many ways, given where he stands in his career. He would become the oldest AT&T Pro-Am champ, supplanting Steve Lowery (who was 47 when he won in 2008).
Let’s face it: Most players, even great ones, fade into oblivion in their late 40s, and usually earlier. Mickelson turns 49 on June 16, which is Father’s Day this year — and also the same day as the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble.
Winning at Pebble in June is still a long shot, given Mickelson’s wellchronicled history of falling short in America’s national championship (six second-place finishes). But it’s also a delicious possibility for Lefty fans to contemplate the next four-plus months.
Mickelson tried like crazy to finish this tournament Sunday. After he made par on No. 16 — shortly before 6 p.m, with the course bathed in gathering darkness — he told rules official Mark Russell, “I can see fine.”
But Casey decided it was too dark to attempt his 3-foot par putt, so he marked his ball and ended his work for the day.
“I’m surprised we got this far,” Casey said. “I think if there was an ability to finish all 18, we would keep going . ... But what’s the point in trying to play 800 yards or something like that? We just can’t do it.”
Mickelson is no fool. He knew they wouldn’t finish the round Sunday and he knew Casey did the smart thing by insisting they stop, absolutely within his rights.
Even so, Mickelson made a Phil-being-Phil attempt to keep playing, marching to the 17th tee as if he could see the green with his special, X-ray vision.
“I get exactly where Paul’s coming from,” Mickelson said. “It’s dark and we’ll have a good chance to come out (Monday) with good greens . ... As much as I would like to finish, it’s probably a good thing. But I wanted to try to finish tonight because I’m playing well.”
Mickelson is chasing not only his fifth AT&T win and 44th career victory on the PGA Tour. He’s also seeking his first triumph on U.S. soil in six years, since the Phoenix Open in February 2013. His two wins since then came in the British Open in July 2013 and at the WGC-Mexico Championship in March 2018.
Players teed off more than three hours later than planned Sunday, after two separate weather delays. Mickelson and Casey finally started their round at 1:09 p.m. It took them nearly two hours to play their first six holes — a common Pro-Am problem — making it clear the event was headed for a Monday finish.
Mickelson trimmed his deficit to two strokes with a birdie on No. 4, the short and picturesque par-4 along Stillwater Cove. Soon thereafter, he made consecutive birdies on Nos. 9 and 10 — two of the hardest holes on the course — to pull even with Casey at 16-under-par.
Mickelson picked up another stroke on No. 11 (thanks to Casey’s bogey), another one on No. 12 (Casey’s bogey) and one more on No. 13 (where Mickelson made birdie). Do the math: Mickelson gained a stroke on Casey for five consecutive holes, abruptly moving from two down to three up.
Casey responded with a birdie on No. 14, and Mickelson promptly matched him to stay three ahead. That should have made it easier for him to sleep Sunday night, knowing another win at Pebble Beach is there for the taking.
Asked about matching O’Meara with his fifth Pro-Am title, Mickelson demurred, saying, “We’re jumping ahead. I know a lot can happen on these two holes, so I want to stay focused and come out tomorrow and try to finish it.”
Yep, this matters to him. A lot.
Four-time Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner Phil Mickelson, who started his round late, had six birdies in 16 bogey-free holes.
Phil Mickelson plays a shot on No. 10 at Pebble Beach. After his tee time was pushed back more than three hours, he took a three-shot lead through 16 holes. He and Paul Casey will complete their rounds Monday.
After a brief hail storm, a greenskeeper uses a leaf blower to clear the second green. Play was suspended for about two hours because of the hail.
Casey will return to face a 3-foot par putt on No. 16 when he and Mickelson resume play Monday.