Mickelson Made Third Round Run at AT&T Pro-Am
February 8, 2020
By Gary McCormick, NCGA correspondent
With five victories in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am to his credit, and a family connection to the course through his maternal grandfather, Al Santos, who was one of the original group of caddies to carry bags at the course when it opened in 1919, Phil Mickelson has a better claim on the title of Honorary Mayor of Pebble Beach than any other golfer in the business.
Starting Saturday’s third round in solo third behind Jason Day and Canadian Nick Taylor, Mickelson came out of the gate at full throttle, opening his round with a pair of birdies at holes one and two. He racked up another birdie at the par-5 sixth hole, which despite its daunting aspect has played easier than any other hole on the course in this year’s tournament.
The fireworks began at the next hole, the world-famous seventh, a tiny jewel of a par-3 which perches on the tip of Arrowhead Point. His tee shot caromed off the putting surface into a fried-egg lie in the back bunker. Squaring up with a wedge, Mickelson hit a low pitch shot that would have run well past the flag if it hadn’t checked in the rough short of the green; instead, it pulled up at kick-in range for a par save that people will be talking about for quite a while.
After three pars to close out the front nine in 33, Mickelson continued with pars at 10 and 11 before making a misstep at the par-3 twelfth, where he landed in the front bunker, wedged out and two-putted for bogey.
At 13, the recently renovated 407-yard par-4, his tee shot went wide left, his second landed in the left-front bunker, followed by a highlight-reel chip-in for birdie.
Similar drama followed at the next hole, the intimidating 582-yard par-5 fourteenth. Wide left off the tee again, Mickelson’s second found the right side of the fairway some 90 yards short of the green. Coming up short when his approach shot checked up and rolled back off of the green; his fourth, a back-foot chip-and-run, drew a beeline for the hole, rattling the flagstick to drop in for a second consecutive birdie.
After par out of a left-of-the-fairway bunker on the fifteenth hole, a routine par at the sixteenth and a disappointing two-putt par from nine feet at the second most famous par-three on the course, #17, Phil found trouble right (for a change) with his second shot at the eighteenth hole.
After getting relief from an obstruction in the wood chips right of the green, he fired a skyhook flop shot that rolled past the hole by inches; he then drained the 4-1/2-foot putt for another birdie. After hitting nine of fourteen fairways, nine of eighteen greens and only 22 putts, Mickelson closed with a 5-under 67 to finish in solo second at 16 under.
Sunday’s round put Mickelson in great shape to renew his oldest-winner title, and to share the back-to-back winner title with Sam Snead (1937, 1938), Jack Nicklaus (1972, 1973), Tom Watson (19777, 1978), Mark O’Meara (1989, 1990), and Dustin Johnson (2009, 2010). Most significantly, a win on Sunday would’ve put Mickelson in sole possession of the all-time AT&T wins title.
Mickelson and his amateur partner, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young, are second in the Pro-Am contest going into the final round, behind Kevin Streelman and his amateur partner, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. They will tee off with third-round leader Nick Taylor and his amateur partner Jerry Tarde, editor-in-chief of Golf Digest magazine, Sunday morning at Pebble Beach.