SCOTTSDALE, AZ (Feb. 5, 2017) – He was in 17th place, four shots off the lead after the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, in 28th six back after two rounds, in 12th six back after three rounds and optimistic about his chances in the final after narrowly missing a birdie on 18.
“I’m far enough back that nobody’s really paying attention,” Phil Mickelson said Saturday. “If I can get off to a good start, three, four, five under on the front nine, that back nine has so much opportunity that I would love to play those final six holes with a chance because there are a lot of birdies and eagles out there.”
It didn’t quite work out that way.
Phil did make four birdies on the outward loop to draw within three of the lead.
“I played 63 holes really well,” said Phil afterward. “I was excited, going to the back nine and having an opportunity to win the tournament with a good back nine.”
But collectively the top 10 finishers were a modest 36 under on the back nine Sunday. And when Phil made the turn, opportunity turned to challenge for him, also.
He hit good drives on 10 and 11 and made bogey on both. A birdie on the reachable par-5 13th helped but he followed that with bogeys on the next two holes and after a double on 17, a final birdie was small solace. His par 71 score dropped him into a tie for 16th after Hideki Matsuyama defended his title in a four-hole playoff with Webb Simpson.
This week Phil moves to the Monterey Peninsula for his 20th consecutive playing of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where he’s looking for his fifth victory after losing a playoff last season.