Phil Mickelson answered his critics in style at the weekend, producing a final round full of control and grace under pressure to walk away with the fifth biggest title in golf. Leftie, who split with long-term coach Rick Smith to work with Butch Harmon just three weeks ago, hit all but four fairways in Sunday?s final round and 16 out of 18 greens in a display that suggests he will head to the US Open next month as a firm favourite.
The American had started the day one behind compatriot Sean O?Hair who played consistently until the iconic 17th hole ended his challenge with a plop. O?Hair put two consecutive tee-shots in the water during a disastrous seven, leaving Mickelson, who opened with two birdies, to walk to the 18th tee with a three-shot lead.
The course, which had undergone a $40 million facelift since last year?s tournament, stood up to the test well, giving little away despite some unseasonal rain on the eve of the event. The US PGA Tour, which owns the event, has said that it is delighted with the ?new? TPC, which had also been moved to a more prominent place in the calendar.
England?s Luke Donald saw his last-round challenge falter in what is becoming a worryingly familiar style. Having started solidly, Donald sank dramatically with three bogeys in three holes to finish the back nine. Fellow Ryder Cup player Sergio Garcia fared better with a storming final round 66 enough to send him into second place. Compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal had earlier set the clubhouse target at eight-under-par.
However, there was no doubt that the day belonged to Mickelson ? Big Phil has now finished third, third and first in the three weeks he has worked with Harmon, Tiger Woods? old coach. ?This was a great week to have the chance to spend each day with Butch, six days straight to work on my game,? said Mickelson, who then went on to fuel the ?fifth Major debate? saying; ? I think as I look back on my career after I stop playing I think I?ll look back on this victory in the same light as the Majors.?
It?s his 31st PGA Tour victory and moves him to second in the official world rankings. He also moves into second on the US PGA Tour money list after picking up the richest prize on Tour: $1.63 million.
-11 Phil Mickelson (Usa)
-9 Sergio Garcia (Sp)
-8 Stewart Cink (Usa), Jose Maria Olazabal (Sp)