Sports: All ‘hail’ Phil? Peb­ble Beach Pro-Am fi­nale pushed to to­day.

The Mercury News - - Front Page -

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.”

JOSE CAR­LOS FA­JARDO — STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Hold­ing a three-shot lead, Phil Mick­el­son looks off into the sun­set af­ter tee­ing off on the 16th hole on Sun­day.

Cam In­man Colum­nist

PHO­TOS BY VERN FISHER — MON­TEREY HER­ALD

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.

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