By JON CHOWN
PEBBLE BEACH — Forced by the weather to finish the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Monday morning, Phil Mickelson made par on 17 and a birdie on 18 to finish the final round at 65 and 19 under for the tournament, three strokes ahead of second-place finisher Paul Casey.
Mickelson started the morning three strokes in front of Casey and Steve Stallings and played error-free golf on 17 and 18.
“It was some of the best I’ve been focused wise,” Mickelson said after. “I knew it was going to take something exceptional to pass Paul.”
“Congratulations to Phil,” Casey said. “It was a fantastic round and he’s a fantastic champion.”
Monday’s two holes of golf followed a wild Sunday that didn’t even begin until the early afternoon for the leaders. Weather caused multiple delays throughout the tournament. Sunday’s final round was pushed back an hour after heavy rains Saturday night and then a hail storm hit the course while the final group of leaders were at the first tee. As a result, Mickelson and Casey didn’t tee off until 1:09 p.m.
Despite the sun setting, Mickelson wanted to keep playing Sunday night and was seen shaking his head when play was halted due to darkness. On the 16th green, with the sun down and winds swirling, Casey said he couldn’t see his ball while putting. Mickelson started the day three strokes behind Casey, had the lead and wanted to finish, but Monday morning, he said he was glad it was stopped, mostly due to Casey’s insistence.
“He protected both he and I in this competition,” Mickelson said while holding the trophy afterwards. “We were able to come out and here and enjoy this beautiful morning on this golf course, as well as see it.”
It was Mickelson’s fifth victory at the event and at 48, he’s the oldest to ever win. Mickelson said his most cherished moments of his career have been at Pebble, including his professional debut in 1992, but the course meant even more to he and his family. His grandfather was one of the course’s original caddies and it helped propel them out of poverty. Mickelson, holding a coin in his hand, talked about it.
“My grandfather carried this silver dollar wherever he went and whenever he would feel poor, he would reach into his pocket and feel this silver dollar and not feel poor,” Mickelson said. “So whenever I come back here, I feel nothing but gratitude.”
Mickelson will be back at Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open in June. It is the one tournament win he still needs for a career grand slam.