Mickelson claims Pebble Beach title

Phil Mickelson poses with the trophy after his victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in Pebble Beach Monday. — AFP

PEBBLE BEACH — Phil Mickelson captured his 50th career worldwide title Monday, finishing off the last two holes of his darkness-halted final round to win the US PGA Pebble Beach Pro-Am tournament.

The 48-year-old American closed with a six-foot birdie putt at the par-5 18th hole to complete a bogey-free final round of seven-under par 65 and conclude 72 holes on 19-under 268, defeating England’s Paul Casey by three strokes.

Casey, who also birdied 18 to finish a last-round 71, and Mickelson were the only players stopped by darkness in Sunday’s hail-delayed final round, Mickelson with two holes remaining and a three-stroke edge over Casey, who resumed by making a three-foot par putt at 16.

It was the fifth career PGA victory at Pebble Beach for Mickelson, who matched the all-time record set by fellow American Mark O’Meara. He also became the oldest-ever PGA winner at the famed California coastal layout.

“It has been a special week for me,” Mickelson said. “This is a special place for me. Every time I come here I have special feelings.”

It’s the course where his grandfather worked as a caddie and where he began his pro career.

Mickelson claimed his 44th US PGA Tour title and has also won three European Tour titles, the 2004 Grand Slam of Golf and 2004 Skins Game and a 1993 Challenge Tour event in Paris.

Mickelson had not won on US soil since the 2013 Phoenix Open.

Five-time major champion Mickelson will try to complete a career Grand Slam at Pebble Beach in June at the US Open, an event where he has finished second a record six times, most recently in 2013.

Scott Stallings, the American who held the clubhouse lead at nightfall Sunday on 15-under, was on hand in case he might be involved in a playoff but settled for third.

Joining Casey and Mickelson on the course Monday was Don Colleran, a FedEx executive who with Casey led the two-man Pro-Am competition by one stroke at 33-under par. Casey’s closing birdie ensured their triumph.

Casey decided to stop ahead of his putt on 16 Sunday even as Mickelson pushed to start the par-3 17th hole.

“I thank Paul for having us come back out here this morning,” Mickelson said. “I get sometimes in my own little bubble and I don’t see the big picture. He protected both of us.”

When they did tee off Monday morning in cold conditions at 17, Mickelson and Casey each drove the ball about eight feet from the cup, missed a birdie putt and tapped in for par.

At 18, Mickelson put the ball in the fairway twice and dropped his approach six feet from the cup to set up his final birdie putt.

Casey was just shy of the green in two but got up and down from six feet to finish second alone. — AFP