Mickelson finishes Atlanta stroll in style

Phil Mickelson coasted to one of the biggest wins in US Tour history at the BellSouth Classic – and very much did it his own way.

Phil Mickelson coasted to one of the biggest wins in US Tour history at the BellSouth Classic – and very much did it his own way.

The American carried two drivers and no sand-wedge in his bag as he marched to an incredible 13-stroke defence of the Atlanta title – and he says he will do the same at the Masters later this week.

Eagling the last for a closing 65 and 28 under par aggregate of 260, the world number four beat the tournament record by five strokes and posted the third widest margin of victory on the circuit in more than 50 years.

Jose Maria Olazabal, beaten by Mickelson in a play-off at the event last year, shared a distant second place with 2004 winner Zach Johnson.

Luke Donald, recovering from the shock of finishing his third round with a quadruple bogey nine, moved up to joint 10th on 10 under with a 66, while David Howell was 24th, Ian Poulter 42nd and Pádraig Harrington down in 51st spot on three under after a disappointing 75.

Harrington commented: “I lost all confidence on reading the greens. I’ll focus mainly on that the next three days, but I think the putter is fine because I’ve been putting well on the practice green.”

Explaining his choice of clubs, Mickelson said: “There’s no sand-wedges at Augusta – have you seen how long that thing is?”

He spent last Monday and Tuesday practising on a course lengthened since last year to a massive 7,445 yards if all the new back tees are used.

“I don’t know where I would ever hit a sand wedge there,” added the left-hander. “I’ve played it however many times the last few years and there’s just no need.”

Whenever he finds a bunker Mickelson feels happy using one of his other wedges, while the two drivers are to help him shape different shots more easily.

Yet the left-hander did come across a situation at Sugarloaf on Saturday that did make him wish he had been able pull out a sand wedge.

Mickelson, 12 shots clear before bogeying the 16th hole in his third round, hit his second shot to the par five last into the lake short of the green – and then pitched back into the water from the drop zone.

After making a 26-foot putt for a double bogey seven, he commented: “It was a 90-yard shot, which was a perfect sand wedge. So it was between an L-wedge, which would have spun it back in the water, and I got a little bit too cute with a gap wedge.

“Although I needed a sand wedge there and a couple of other times, I think that the strokes that I have gained with having another driver has off-set that. I’ve been able to attack a lot more pins because of it.”

Donald said: “Obviously Phil’s playing great, but I might have got close to second but for that nine yesterday.

“I’m pretty pleased with how I played today – it could have been even lower - and it’s good for my confidence going into next week.” He was third on his debut at Augusta last year.

Mickelson, the man to beat from the moment he birdied six of his first seven holes on Thursday, resumed eight clear, went to the turn in 34, then followed another birdie at the 10th with arguable his shot of the week, a driver to three feet for eagle at the 13th.

Another birdie came on the 14th just before a 40-minute storm delay and the eagle finish was just the icing on the cake.

Collated final totals in the USPGA Tour BellSouth Classic, TPC at Sugarloaf, Atlanta, Georiga, USA (USA unless stated, par 72):

260 Phil Mickelson 63 65 67 65

273 Jose Maria Olazabal (Spa) 71 64 69 69, Zach Johnson 69 70 64 70

274 Retief Goosen (Rsa) 69 70 69 66, JJ Henry 69 65 72 68

276 Jonathan Byrd 69 68 66 73

277 Shane Bertsch 68 69 74 66, Richard Johnson (Swe) 73 71 66 67, Doug Barron 74 67 65 71

278 Luke Donald (Gbr) 68 70 74 66, Charley Hoffman 71 72 69 66, Ryuji Imada (Jpn) 71 67 72 68, Briny Baird 72 69 68 69, Steve Flesch 71 68 67 72

279 David Toms 75 68 69 67, Mathias Gronberg (Swe) 71 73 68 67, Fredrik Jacobson (Swe) 70 72 68 69, Todd Fischer 70 71 68 70

280 Brian Gay 70 69 74 67, Jason Bohn 71 70 70 69, Mark Wilson 68 71 70 71, Rich Beem 69 72 68 71

281 Will MacKenzie 69 70 71 71

282 Bo Van Pelt 70 74 71 67, Stephen Leaney (Aus) 68 75 71 68, David Branshaw 72 71 70 69, Jonathan Kaye 73 70 70 69, Dudley Hart 70 69 73 70, Brent Geiberger 70 70 71 71, Stewart Cink 72 69 70 71, Larry Mize 71 69 70 72, David Howell (Gbr) 67 72 70 73, Charles Warren 65 72 72 73

283 Kevin Na 73 71 72 67, Ron Whittaker 72 72 72 67, BJ Staten 70 69 75 69, Jeff Brehaut 69 75 71 68, Bubba Dickerson 72 72 69 70, Duffy Waldorf 72 66 74 71, Arron Oberholser 70 72 69 72, Alex Cejka (Ger) 71 70 68 74

284 Steve Lowery 72 71 72 69, Franklin Langham 70 71 73 70, Chris Smith 69 70 74 71, Frank Lickliter 74 70 70 70, Shingo Katayama (Jpn) 75 67 71 71, Brett Wetterich 67 74 72 71, Jeff Gove 72 71 70 71, Ian Poulter (Gbr) 66 72 74 72, Billy Andrade 70 72 70 72

285 Steve Jones 70 73 74 68, Tjaart van der Walt (Rsa) 75 68 73 69, Greg Chalmers (Aus) 73 71 72 69, Mike Sposa 72 71 71 71, Roger Tambellini 69 71 73 72, Pádraig Harrington (Irl) 68 71 71 75

286 Scott Parel 66 77 74 69, Scott McCarron 72 71 74 69, Wes Short 69 72 74 71, Davis Love 71 69 75 71, Hidemichi Tanaka (Jpn) 75 69 71 71, Gavin Coles (Aus) 64 72 76 74, Marco Dawson 72 68 72 74

287 Phil Tataurangi (Nzl) 71 72 78 66, Jerry Smith 70 72 74 71

288 Joe Durant 66 73 79 70, Jeff Overton 71 72 75 70, Sean O’Hair 72 70 70 76

289 Tom Byrum 69 73 76 71, Robert Garrigus 75 68 73 73, Tim Clark (Rsa) 73 69 73 74, Boyd Summerhays 68 72 74 75, Greg Kraft 72 72 70 75

290 Danny Ellis 68 76 72 74

291 Matt Kuchar 68 74 72 77, Thomas Levet (Fra) 76 68 69 78

292 Dean Wilson 70 72 75 75

293 Donnie Hammond 72 70 77 74

295 Sonny Skinner 75 69 78 73.

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox