Mickelson Resumes Chase of O’Meara’s AT&T Record
Jan. 13, 2014
The biggest chase in golf is of course whether or not Tiger Woods can catch Jack Nicklaus.
At the AT&T Pro-Am, it’s about Phil Mickelson’s pursuit of Mark ‘The Prince of Pebble Beach’ O’Meara’s record five tournament wins.
Following his fourth AT&T Pro-Am win in 2012, Mickelson declared that the target was in sights, telling scribes that “Mark’s a wonderful person and player, but I’m going to try and match his record.”
Last year’s AT&T Pro-Am, however, was one Lefty probably has long forgotten about. In contention early, he unraveled thanks to a third-round 73 at Pebble Beach. That round included a triple-bogey on the 18th after his drive found the rocky beach, and his ensuing shot landed in the Pacific. To make matters worse, he slipped on the rocks, landing on his wallet. On Sunday, Mickelson closed out a T-60 finish—his worst showing since missing the cut in 2008–with a double-bogey on 18.
“I got lucky I didn’t get hurt,” said Mickelson of his fall.
Still, there are a lot of reasons to like Lefty’s chances of catching O’Meara.
For one, O’Meara’s last AT&T win (1997) came when he was 40. Mickelson’s 2012 victory came at age 41, and as last year’s British Open proved, there’s still plenty left in the tank.
Like O’Meara, Mickelson has also learned to embrace the Pro-Am format and what can be long rounds.
“Early in my career I didn’t do well at Pebble Beach,” he said. “As I got older, maybe I got more patience.”
There’s also Mickelson’s special connection with Pebble Beach. His grandfather, Al Santos, originally caddied at Del Monte Golf Coursebut moved to Pebble when the course opened in 1919. Whenever he competes at Pebble, Mickelson uses a silver dollar that was his grandfather’s as a ball marker.
“When he (Santos) was young, he had to leave school in the fourth grade and go to work to help out his family,” Mickelson said. “He always felt poor, and there were many days he was unable to eat, but he had a silver dollar from 1900 that he’d rub and never spend. It’s just a cool feeling to have the money that he cherished and also to see what we are now playing for in prize money and how far the game of golf has come. It’s a great reminder for me.”