The PGA Tour's West Coast swing continues to bring out the best in Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson earned his 16th career victory in events played in California or Arizona, posting a two-stroke victory Sunday over Jeff Quinney in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. The San Diego native shot 1-under-par 70 in the final round to record his 33rd career victory overall and his first this season.
Mickelson, who pocketed $1.1 million and now tops the money list and leads the FedEx Cup chase, finished the tournament at 12-under 272.
"I always like to get a win early in the season," Mickelson said during his post-round press conference. "I love the West Coast. I play a lot and it gives me momentum for the rest of the year."
Having never won before on a course with so much history, Mickelson said the victory at Riviera is something special. He said he's thrilled to join a list of past champions that includes the likes of Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson.
"The names that are on this trophy are pretty cool and bring some up an element of history to this tournament," Mickelson said. "Riviera is a special place - a fun, challenging golf course that's withstood the test of time.
"I think it has some of the greatest holes on the PGA Tour and it's fun to play well here."
Mickelson admittedly wasn't able to do that very often for most of his career at Riviera. The 38-year-old first appeared to really be getting the hang of playing at Riviera last year when he lost a playoff to Charles Howell III.
"When I first started playing here, whether it was as an amateur or early in my career, I didn't understand the nuances of this golf course and where you can and can't hit it," Mickelson said. "Learning those nuances and how to hit the shots into some of these greens has helped me over the years."
Quinney was the only player who had a realistic chance to catch Mickelson late in the final round. However, his putter failed him at crucial times as he made bogeys on four of five holes prior to his birdie on No. 18.
Despite the collapse, Quinney said he left feeling good about ending as the runner-up to Mickelson in a wild week for him that included making a hole-in-one and playing the weekend with one of golf's biggest names. It was his best finish in two years on tour.
"I was pretty proud of myself," Quinney told reporters. "Obviously, not the end result, but a second-place finish (is) kind of huge boost of confidence.
"Obviously I wanted to win, but definitely think I'm going to get there soon and it's just a matter of when, not if, and I'm just going to keep moving forward."
Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald tied for third at 7-under 277, while Ryuji Imada and Scott Verplank both shot 6-under 278 to tie for fifth place. First-round leader K.J. Choi settled for a seventh-place tie with Robert Allenby, J.B. Holmes and Stuart Appleby.
But the day belonged to Mickelson, who started with the lead and birdied No. 1. "Lefty" later responded to a bogey on the ninth with back-to-back birdies and Nos. 10 and 11 before suffering a bogey at No. 15.
That solid play and a putter change helped make Mickelson a West Coast winner once again.
"I'm excited to play golf and I practice very hard on the West Coast when the season is coming around and I haven't played for a while," Mickelson said. "I work hard on my game. I've got a lot of energy and I'm excited to get back out
"I just have a great love for the West Coast and I've been fortunate to play well here."
February 18, 2008
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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