Mickelson celebrates treasured victory
Pebble Beach has always been treasured by Phil Mickelson and he added another memorable chapter to his exploits at the landmark California venue by winning the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am by two shots on Sunday.
At the picturesque Pebble Beach Golf Links where his grandfather used to work as a caddie, the American left-hander fired a stunning eight-under-par 64 to claim his 40th career victory on the PGA Tour.
It was his fourth triumph in the pro-am celebrity event where only five-times champion Mark O'Meara has won more titles, and vindication that his early season work has paid off.
"It just feels great to win this tournament," Mickelson, 41, told reporters after posting a 17-under total of 269. "It's a special place for me, Pebble Beach, and to have a win here, where my grandfather caddied, feels awesome.
"I felt like my game was so close heading into the season, and yet my scores didn't reflect how I felt I was playing," added the four-times major champion, who had finished no better than joint 26th in his first three starts on the 2012 PGA Tour.
"And to put it together this week, especially the final round, just feels terrific. It gives me a lot of confidence but also inspires me because I believe what I'm doing is correct and that I'm able to play some of my best golf."
Mickelson was also delighted to outscore his playing partner Tiger Woods by 11 shots after they had been paired together for the 30th time in the final round of a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.
"I just feel very inspired when I play with him," the Californian said of Woods. "I love playing with him, and he brings out some of my best golf.
"I hope that he continues to play better and better, and I hope that he and I have a chance to play together more in final rounds."
Woods failed in his bid for a first PGA Tour victory since the BMW Championship in September 2009 but Mickelson felt the former world No 1 was close to his best after two years of struggle on and off the course.
"Watching him play today, it can change in one week," Mickelson said after 14-times major champion Woods had battled with his putting on the way to a closing three-over-par 75.
"He used to hook, you were waiting for it and now he's just striping it right at his target with a tiny little fade just like he used to do. And his iron play looked extremely sharp.
"I know the score wasn't what he wanted and I know he didn't putt the way he wanted to, but you could tell that he's really close. All it takes is one week."
Mickelson's victory on Sunday lifted him into ninth place in the all-time PGA Tour standings with Walter Hagenimmediately above him with 45 wins. Sam Snead heads the list with 82.
"It feels awesome, whatever number it is," smiled Mickelson, who will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May.
"I'm very proud to be in the Hall of Fame but I also feel as though I want to look ahead. There will be a time in my career where I'll look back and reflect but right now I'm looking ahead because I feel I have the ability to play some of my best golf."