Golf

Mickelson tears up the back nine

Phil Mickelson poses for photographers with the championship trophy after winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open
Phil Mickelson now has 41 PGA Tour victories in his career.
GolfWeek Nick Masuda
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Phil Mickelson felt some pressure on Sunday, but the six-shot advantage with which he began the day proved to be too much for his pursuers to overcome. Mickelson picked up his first 2013 victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Here are Five Things to take away from Mickelson's dominant week at TPC Scottsdale:

1. Lovin' Lefty

Sunday wasn't a cakewalk for Mickelson, as Brandt Snedeker managed to cut Lefty's lead to three by the turn.

Mickelson got off to a bumpy start Sunday, bogeying the par-4 second hole to open the door for a Snedeker run. It was Mickelson's first blemish since a double-bogey on No. 18 to finish Round 2.

"It's an important one for me, because it's been a while since I won, been a while since I've been in contention," said Mickelson, whose last PGA Tour win came at Pebble Beach nearly a year earlier. "I was certainly nervous heading into today. I think the thing I'm most excited about was the way I was able to regain control of my thoughts after a few shots early on that I didn't care for."

While TPC Scottsdale is a scoring course, Mickelson did most of his damage on the back nine, going 19 under for the week on the final nine holes. He birdied Nos. 13 and 17 each day.

Mickelson also used the par 5s to his advantage, and birdied Nos. 13 and 15 on his way to a 4-under 67 that capped a 28-under 256 that ties Mark Calcavecchia's tournament record. Mickelson cleared the field by four shots and earned his 41st career victory.

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He is the first player to win wire-to-wire on the PGA Tour since Rory McIlroy did it at the 2011 US Open. It was Mickelson's third wire-to-wire victory, but the first since the 2006 BellSouth Classic.

"I think that sets up the tone for the rest of the year, because I really started to play well," Mickelson said. "But for me, the rest of the year took a turn on Tuesday when I got my new driver. It just changed my whole deal."

2. Mr. Consistsent

Snedeker nearly played his final two rounds without a bogey. His single blemish in a final-round 65 was a bogey at the final hole that was caused by a trio of errant shots.

Snedeker still finished in solo second, his third finish of at least a tie for third this season. He's also finished in the top 4 in five of his last eight tournaments.

The reigning FedEx Cup champion made a run at Mickelson on Sunday behind four front-nine birdies, but a penalty stroke on the par-5 13th and a sloppy bogey on the closing 18th were too costly.

"Sometimes you have to tip your hat and say, 'Phil played unbelievable and deserved to win,'" Snedeker said. "That's kind of what this week was all about."

3. Great Scott

Scott Piercy shot the lowest round of the day on Sunday, carding a 10-under 61 that included five birdies over his last six holes. He finished solo third, his best since a tie for second at the HSBC Champions in November.

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Piercy finished tied for third 13 at Hyundai, tied for 15th at the Sony Open and missed the cut last week at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"These greens were amazing," Piercy said. "If you got it online, rolling, you made it."

There were plenty of low scores at TPC Scottsdale on Sunday, including two rounds 62. The first belonged to Ryan Palmer and James Hahn shot the other. Palmer finished the tournament at 19 under and in fifth place, while Hahn jumped 42 spots to a tie for 16th at 14 under.

4. Hahn-nam Style

James Hahn became an instant video star on Sunday after a birdie at the loud, par-3 16th. He began to dance on the side of the green after the putt dropped, going into full Gangnam Style mode. It was one of his seven birdies on the day en route to his 62.

It was also at the 16th hole that Nick Watney shed his Nike hat for a San Francisco 49ers one — he grew up a diehard Niners fan — and Hunter Mahan celebrated his birdie by "Kaepernicking" — or kissing your biceps in a flexed form.

5. Short shots

— Ben Crane holed out for an eagle at the par-4 11th and was 4 under on the back nine to finish the tournament at 16 under.

— Bubba Watson fired a final-round 7-under 64, a career-best at TPC Scottsdale.

— Sony Open winner Russell Henley struggled to a third-round, 3-over 74 and followed it with an even-par 71 for an over-par weekend.

Tagged: Phil Mickelson, James Hahn, Brandt Snedeker, Scott Piercy

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