Mickelson Flirts With History in Phoenix
(CNN) — Every day Phil Mickelson was on the verge of making PGA Tour history. Every day he fell just a little bit short.
But it mattered not, as the veteran American led from start to finish to become only the fourth player to win the Phoenix Open three times.
It didn't matter that his putt for a magical 59 lipped out in Thursday's opening round.
It didn't matter that he missed the U.S. circuit's 36-hole scoring record after a double-bogey on Friday.
And making the second best 54-hole total on Saturday was not a problem either -- it put him six shots clear going into the home straight.
A final-round 67 was his worst of the tournament and left him on 28-under-par 256 overall, the joint second-best 72-hole total in PGA Tour history -- matching the mark set by fellow three-time winner Mark Calcavecchia at the same tournament in 2001.
The 42-year-old came off the course at TPC Scottsdale beaming, having earned his 41st PGA Tour title ahead of next week's defense of his crown at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -- the scene of his 40th win.
"I played really good golf," Mickelson said after claiming the $1 million first prize and moving into ninth place on the PGA Tour's all-time win list.
"This is how I've been playing for a while and it feels really good to get that golf out of me when I'm at a big tournament."
Mickelson, who also credited his new driver for his upswing in fortunes, is targeting a fourth Masters victory in April.
"It's important to start building momentum but it's more important what you do closer to Augusta," Mickelson said.
"You have got to deal with some of the greatest pressure you will ever deal with at Augusta."
His closest challenger at Scottsdale, Brandt Snedeker, got within three shots but a dropped shot at the last extended Mickelson's winning margin.
"To be in the last group with Phil and kind of trade birdie for birdie and make up some ground was a lot of fun," said Snedeker, who was also second behind Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines last weekend.
"It's what we play for. I wish I could have put some more pressure on him and got a little closer than I did today, but I think I shot 12 under par on the weekend and made one bogey.
"Sometimes you have to tip your hat and say Phil played unbelievable and deserved to win, and that's kind of what this week was all about."
Meanwhile, Scottish golfer Stephen Gallacher ended an eight-year wait for a European Tour victory when he triumphed at the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday.
The 38-year-old's three-shot victory from South African Richard Sterne came 210 starts since he won his first at the Dunhill Links Championship, and put him inside the world's top 60 rankings.
"It's taken a long time but it's sweeter now. I'm maturing with age hopefully!" said Gallacher, who fired a crucial eagle at the 16th hole -- his fifth of the week -- to move clear.