It has been 20 years since Phil Mickelson first stepped inside the ropes at Riviera, a 17-year-old amateur in awe of the fabled course off...
LOS ANGELES — It has been 20 years since Phil Mickelson first stepped inside the ropes at Riviera, a 17-year-old amateur in awe of the fabled course off Sunset Boulevard, inspired by names like Hogan, Snead and Nelson that were on the trophy.
Lefty finally joined them on Sunday, adding to his impressive collection of PGA Tour titles on the Left Coast.
Mickelson made two clutch putts on the back nine, seized control when Jeff Quinney self-destructed with the putter, and took a relaxing walk up the 18th fairway with a victory he felt was a long time coming.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Seahawks' Quinton Dunbar changes lawyers after report of cover-up scheme leaks
- Washington's NFL team drops 'Redskins' name after 87 years
- Watch: Former Husky Matisse Thybulle gives a glimpse of what the NBA bubble is like for the 76ers
- 'Smell ya later' -- Jarred Kelenic blasts a pair of homers in the Mariners intrasquad game
- 'I was amped and excited': Isaiah Campbell was ready to get on mound for Mariners VIEW
He closed with a 1-under 70 for a two-shot victory, the 33rd of his career, with 16 of those in California and Arizona.
“The fact I haven’t won this and it has taken me so long to win makes it that much more special,” Mickelson said.
A year ago, Lefty was poised to win in Los Angeles until he bogeyed the 18th hole and lost in a playoff against Charles Howell III. This time, he was steady down the stretch as Quinney’s putter changed from a magic wand to a ball-and-chain.
Quinney made four straight putts outside 10 feet, then made three straight bogeys starting on the 13th hole. The first two came from missing consecutive par putts from 7 feet that allowed Mickelson a cushion over the closing holes.
“I just put a little too much pressure on the putter on the back nine,” said Quinney, who made a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that only changed the final score. He closed with a 71.
British Open champion Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald each shot 68 and tied for third, although this was a two-man race from the start, and a one-man celebration over the final two holes.
Mickelson, who finished at 12-under 272 and earned $1,116,000, made his PGA Tour debut at Torrey Pines at age 17, then showed up a week later at Riviera. As much as the course impressed him, it also confounded him over the years, and he played there sparingly until returning with a renewed commitment last year.
“I didn’t understand the nuances of this golf course, where you can and can’t hit it,” he said. “And learning those nuances and how to hit the shots into some of these greens has helped me over the years.
“Last year was when I started to put it together, and I’m fortunate to break through this year.”
Seattle’s Fred Couples (final-round 71) finished tied for 31st at 1-under 283, and Ryan Moore of Puyallup (75) tied for 62nd at 289.
• Scott Hoch made an 8-foot birdie putt on the last hole of regulation to get in a four-way playoff, then made another 8-footer on the first playoff hole to win The ACE Group Classic in Naples, Fla.
It was his second straight Champions Tour victory.
Hoch, Tom Jenkins, Tom Kite and Brad Bryant all finished at 14-under-par 202.
• American Darron Stiles won the New Zealand PGA in Christchurch, closing with a 4-under 68 for a one-stroke victory in the tournament reduced to 36 holes because of rain Friday and Saturday.
Because the tournament was cut to two rounds, the victory will not count as an official win and Stiles won’t receive exempt Nationwide Tour status through 2009.
• Felipe Aguilar finished with a 2-under 68 to cap off a dramatic final round to win the Indonesia Open in Jakarta Astro.
• World No. 1 Tiger Woods will face long-hitting J.B. Holmes in the first round of the World Golf Championships Match Play tournament, which opens Wednesday at The Gallery Golf Club at Dove Mountain outside Tucson, Ariz.
Holmes, ranked 65th, was added to the field two days ago as a replacement for No. 45 Brett Wetterich, who withdrew because of a shoulder injury.
The 64 competitors are seeded 1-16 in four match-play brackets. Woods is the top seed in the Bobby Jones bracket, while Mickelson is No. 1 in the Gary Player division. Steve Stricker is the top seed in the Sam Snead bracket, and Ernie Els heads the Ben Hogan division.
“I’ve always said match play is like a boat race,” Woods said on his Web site. “It’s basically a sprint and anything can happen in 18 holes.”