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29 February 2024

Mickelson completes wire-to-wire Phoenix romp

Phil Mickelson holds the championship trophy after winning the Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 3, 2013 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (AFP)


Phil Mickelson fired a four-under par 67 on Sunday to complete a wire-to-wire victory in the $6.2 million US PGA Phoenix Open, capturing his 41st career title by four strokes.

It was the first time a player led every round alone on the way to a tour title since Rory McIlroy's breakthrough Major triumph at the 2011 US Open.

"I played really good golf," Mickelson said. "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."

Together with a dominant victory a week ago by Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines, Mickelson's triumph showed that two of the game's most popular stars are in top early season form with the year's first major looming in April at the Masters.

The 42-year-old left-hander, a three-time Masters champion, won for the first time since last year's Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

"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."

Mickelson missed out on the lowest 72-hole score in PGA history, a 26-under par 254 by Tommy Armour III at the 2003 Texas Open, but settled for a share of the second-lowest 72-hole tournament total in PGA history on 28-under par 256.

On Sunday, Mickelson took a bogey at the par-4 second, answered with birdies on the par-3 fourth and seventh holes, then closed with birdies on the par-5 13th and 15th holes as well as the par-4 17th.

"I was nervous at the start," Mickelson said. "When you haven't won (in a while), you want it bad. I had to get control of my thoughts after the first few holes. I had to think about what I wanted to do with my shots."

Brandt Snedeker was second on 260 after a closing 65 with fellow American Scott Piercy finishing with a 61 to stand on 261, one stroke ahead of Ryan Moore and four better than Ryan Palmer.

Mickelson captured his third Phoenix Open title after triumphs in 1996 and 2005, matching the record shared by Arnold Palmer, Mark Calcavecchia and Gene Littler.

Mickelson flirted with a 59 before settling for a first-round 60, carded a second-round 65 that was marred by a double bogey at 18, and followed with a 64 on Saturday to seize a six-stroke lead entering Sunday.