PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Phil Mickelson is poised to clinch his fifth AT-T Pebble Beach Pro-Am win by turning a three-shot deficit into a three-shot lead before an eventful day finish Sunday.
Mickelson was free with six birdies, and he did his great race starting with a nine-foot iron behind the cut on the ninth of normal 4. It was the beginning of a five-hole stretch in which Mickelson made three birdies and Paul Casey had two bogeys.
About the only thing that was wrong with Mickelson's way was the timing. The last round started with an hour late because of the rain, then was delayed by two hours when the sun gave way to a hail storm in minutes, covering the greens with a layer of white . Mickelson was 18 under par 16 holes. Casey had a putt of 3 feet per foot on the same hole when Mickelson tried to push for both to finish, even in the dark.
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"I see," Mickelson told a rules officer. "I do not want to put Paul in a bad position."
Casey was at 15 under, tied with Scott Stallings, who closed with a 66. With an outside chance of forcing the playoffs, finishing alone in second place instead of a tie is a difference of $ 152,000, with World Ranking Points and FedEx Cup Points. Casey and Don Colleran, FedEx executive, had a one-shot lead in the pro-am.
"I do not see how we could end," Casey said as he climbed the 16th fairway. "We can not finish two holes in six minutes I'd like."
Mickelson was standing on the 17th tee when he heard the sound of the horn to stop playing and he shook his head.
The rest of his day was much better than the weather. Mickelson is about to win for the 44th time in his career and match Mark O 'Meara to five wins in a tournament that he played for the first time in 1995. That would be his first victory on American soil since the Phoenix Open six years ago. He won the British Open this summer in Scotland and the Mexican championship last year.
His brilliant piece shared the stage with a weird weather, even by Pebble standards. Mickelson and Casey were waiting for the arrival of the clouds when the clouds settled quickly and that the rain turned into hail that pounded the umbrellas, number of them kept aside to account for the wind. The greens were quickly covered by tiny white pellets and workers were switching from using squeegees for excess water to using blowers to remove hail.
Sam Saunders, whose grandfather, Arnold Palmer, was one of the owners of Pebble Beach, picked up the hail and threw it like a snowball. Patrick Reed's brother is lying on his back and trying to create a snow angel. He never had a reasonable chance to finish in his pro-am format, with mostly foursomes on the golf course.
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Casey had never won three times before, he had a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour, both two or more shots, and he was defending against the relentless pursuit of Mickelson, who had missed three putts. consecutive birds from the 12-foot range by the thinnest margins. Casey had a great average, and then Mickelson took off.
After passing the 9th iron in a foot to ninth goal to get a shot, Mickelson managed a birdie of 12 feet on the 10th with a practice that hugged the right side of the fairway and would likely have jumped into the ocean it was not there. conditions so soft against the rain that bullets are blocked where they landed.
Casey blinked first with a bogey at the 11th hole and another at 12th par 3 when his tee shot fell right into the bunker. Mickelson explained that his skills did not deteriorate a little at the age of 48 and that he perfectly controlled the rotation of the players. He just did not want to stay another day.
"I understand where Paul is coming from," said Mickelson. "We are going to have a good chance of getting out of new greens, I have good vision, I see well and I wanted to continue in. In all honesty, it's a good thing to play the last two holes in cool conditions. & # 39; & # 39;
Some players finished in the dark without any chance of winning but showed the effect of playing without light. Scott Piercy had a 15-foot putt slightly uphill, and he was still running 7 feet from the hole and three points for the bogey. Jason Day finished with a 68 and tied for fourth with 175 under 13 with Si Woo Kim (68).