Magical Mickelson hits ‘memorable’ winner

PHIL MICKELSON conjured up a piece of magic at the final hole to win the USPGA Tour Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Texas.

Seemingly stymied by a clump of trees after a poor drive at the par-four 18th, Mickelson hoisted a wedge over the trouble, his ball landing on the front of the green and trickling up to within nine feet.

He read his birdie putt perfectly, knocking it home to clinch a one-stroke victory over Rod Pampling and Tim Clark after an exciting final round.

Mickelson carded 68 to finish at 14-under-par 266 for his 34th victory on the PGA Tour.

Pampling led for most of the final round, and was one stroke ahead with two holes left, but he pushed his drive into a hazard at the par-four 17th and had to take a penalty stroke.

He did well to salvage a bogey in the end, falling back into a three-way tie for the lead going to the last.

But Pampling, after a great drive at the 18th, hit a poor second shot and left his birdie putt nearly five feet short. But he holed out to shoot 68 and tie for second with Clark (66).

Mickelson described his final-hole wedge as one of the best shots of his career.

“You have to take risks to win and I tried to do that,” said the 37-year-old, explaining he had to thread his ball over one tree and under another.

“I’m as surprised as anybody I was able to make a three from over there. I’m thinking if I make par and get into a play-off, that would be great.

“It wasn’t like it was an easy shot, but it came off. It was one of my more memorable ones.” Mickelson collected $1,098,000 (€700,000) for his second PGA Tour victory of 2008.

Playing partner Pampling was philosophical in defeat.

“You get to expect him to do that,” he said. “Those guys play those kind of shots.

“I thought I was in great position. I was obviously disheartened.”

Earlier, Mickelson started the round with a one-stroke lead over Pampling, who tied it up with a tap-in birdie at the par-five first.

But Mickelson regained the lead with a tap-in birdie at the second, after hitting an exquisite pitch shot, before going two strokes ahead when Pampling bogeyed number three.

Mickelson made a mess of the par-four fifth, firing his approach shot over the green to make bogey, and Pampling drew level at the very next hole when he ran in a monster 50-foot birdie putt.

And Pampling took the lead with a six-foot birdie at the seventh, before extending his advantage to two strokes with a near tap-in at number nine.

Mickelson cut the margin with a two-putt birdie at the par-five 11th, and the two leaders traded pars at the next five holes, although Mickelson dodged a bullet at the par-four 15th when his approach shot from the rough came within a couple of rolls of trickling into the creek behind the green.

But his ball stayed dry and, after a poor first putt, he sank a nine-foot attempt to stay just one shot behind.

Pampling stayed in front with a similar nine-foot par putt at the 16th, but made a nervous swing on the 17th, one bad shot that effectively cost him the tournament.


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