Sports: All ‘hail’ Phil? Pebble Beach Pro-Am finale pushed to today.
PEBBLE BEACH >> Phil Mickelson stood on the No. 1 tee and glanced at the Rolex on his left wrist. Sunset was due in 41/2 hours.
Time would be of the essence for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am to sneak in a final round Sunday, the byproduct of a rare hailstorm that prompted a two-hour delay.
Would Mickelson and his challengers finish? Hail, no.
Mickelson owns a three-shot lead with two holes to go when the final round resumes at 8 a.m. today. He is gunning not only to join Mark O’Meara as a five-time winner in this tourney, but to also gain momentum for June’s U.S. Open return to Pebble Beach.
Nearly five hours after teeing off, and after the sun already ducked into the Pacific Ocean, Mickelson pleaded to press into the darkness, to play out No. 17 and to tee off on No. 18.
Paul Casey would not go along with that plan, opting to instead mark his ball for an awaiting 3-foot par putt on No. 16. Casey is tied for second with Scott Stallings at 15-under, and Casey is leading the pro-am portion with Don Colleran by two strokes.
“I get exactly where Paul is coming from. It’s dark and we have a chance to come out tomorrow on
fresh greens,” Mickelson said. “I have pretty good vision, I’m playing well and I wanted to continue.
“It’s probably a good thing because we’ll play the last couple holes in good conditions.”
The last Pebble Beach Pro-Am decided on a Monday was in 2000, when Tiger Woods won as a precursor to his U.S. Open rout at Pebble Beach that summer. Mickelson will take all the karma he can get as a six-time, U.S. Open runner-up.
As for Sunday’s hail, it lasted a couple minutes and made for a stunning 100th birthday present to the ever-picturesque Pebble Beach. Rain and wind hammered the course throughout the week. Then Saturday night’s downpour initially pushed tee times back an hour.
At 10:53 a.m., play got suspended, golfers came off the course and groundskeepers were deployed with leaf blowers and squeegees to get the hail off the greens.
“That looked like snow out there,” Clint Eastwood said on CBS’ broadcast.
At 1 p.m., play resumed, although Mickelson waited 10 minutes longer as the last to tee off No. 1, well after his original 9:50 a.m. tee time with Casey, the third-round leader.
Mickelson played bogey-free while racking up birdies on Nos. 2, 4, 9, 10, 13 and 14. He made his move near the turn with those birdies on Nos. 9 and 10, and the lead was his once Casey bogeyed No. 11.
Casey, who held a three-shot lead after three rounds, also bogeyed No. 12 before getting that back with a birdie on 14.
He failed to distance himself on the front-nine with only one birdie.
“There’s still a glimmer,” Casey said of his chances. “I need to do something special.”
Mickelson caught Casey by making an 11foot birdie putt on No. 10. That followed three birdies by Mickelson on the front-nine: first matching Casey on No. 2, then curling in a 10-footer on No. 4 and tapping in a 1-footer on No. 9.
Casey has won only
1 of 4 previous tournaments in which he held a 54-hole lead, that victory coming at the 2009 Houston Open; he blew a 4-stroke lead in last year’s Travelers Championship. The 41-yearold Englishman’s only other PGA Tour win came last year when he edged Woods and Patrick Reed by a stroke at the Valspar Championship.
Final-round temperatures were in the mid-40s at about 10:30 a.m., but the 12 mph wind made conditions feel like 40 degrees, and then pebblesized hail commandeered Pebble Beach.
Yes, hail, and we don’t mean Hale Irwin, who already has his own chapter in Pebble Beach lore. (Irwin won the 1984 tournament
after forcing a playoff with a birdie on No. 18, but not before his drive bounced off the Pacific Ocean rocks.)
This tournament’s famed “Crosby Weather” complicates matters every few years, and the most recent ruination came in 2009, when the tourney got washed out after three rounds.
This marks the eighth time a winner won’t be crowned until Monday. That counts the 1998 finale that wasn’t completed until August, when Mickelson prevailed. Other Monday winners: Doug Ford (1962), Jack Nicklaus (1967), George Archer (1969), Tom Watson (1978) and John Cook (1981).
Sunday’s white-out on the greens cued up images from 1962, when snow delayed the final round. That tournament exhumed one of the great quotes about arguably America’s greatest course: “I know I got loaded last night but how did I end up in Squaw Valley,” 1952 champion Jimmy Demeret said of the 1962 snow day.
Casey said of Sunday’s chilly conditions: “I like the sun. This is brutal. This is why I moved away from England.”
Holding a three-shot lead, Phil Mickelson looks off into the sunset after teeing off on the 16th hole on Sunday.
Cam Inman Columnist
Paul Casey, who trails leader Phil Mickelson by three shots in the weather-plagued tournament, tees off from the fourth hole at the Pebble Beach Golf Links on Sunday.
Phil Mickelson walks across the fifth-hole bridge on Sunday. The popular player is gunning to join Mark O’Meara as a five-time winner of the tournament.