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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2009 > PGA Tour > Northern Trust Open > Round 4
 

NORTHERN TRUST OPEN RELATED STORIES






Phil Mickelson holds on to claim narrow win

On the verge of blowing the biggest lead of his career, Phil Mickelson turned his fortunes around in the final hour at Riviera with back-to-back birdies that carried him to a one-shot victory Sunday in the Northern Trust Open.

Mickelson went from a four-shot lead at the start of the final round to a two-shot deficit with three holes to play. But he hit 9-iron to 5 feet for birdie on the 16th, holed a 6-foot birdie on the 17th and saved par with a 6-foot putt on the final hole.

He closed with a 1-over 72 to become only the fourth player to win in consecutive years at Riviera.

Steve Stricker closed with a 67 and was on his way to the range to get ready for a playoff when he saw Mickelson leave himself a tough par putt on the final hole, and stopped when he heard the cheer.

He had his chances. Stricker missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th that would have given him a three-shot lead at the time, then missed a 12-footer for par on the 18th.

But the real heartache belonged to Fred Couples.

A two-time winner at Riviera, his favorite golf course west of Augusta National, the 49-year-old had a chance for one last victory in his final full season on the PGA Tour. Couples was one shot behind when he fanned his approach to the 18th green and watched in disgust as it struck a eucalyptus tree. He finished with a bogey for a 69 to tie for third with K.J. Choi (69) and Andres Romero (70).

Couples learned earlier in the week that his former wife, Thais Baker, died of breast cancer.

Mickelson finished at 15-under 269 and won for the 35th time in his career. It was the first time since the 2005 PGA Championship that he won a tournament without breaking par in the final round.

Lefty won for the 17th time on the West Coast, and it could not have come at a better time. He had failed to break the top 20 in his first three starts, missing the cut in Phoenix and making it on the number at Pebble Beach.

And while a victory should take care of any talk about a slump, this was one of his wildest wins yet—63-72-62-72.

Mickelson had never lost a PGA Tour event when leading by more than four shots going into the final round, but what appeared to be his biggest collapse turned into a stunning recovery.

He did not find the fairway with a driver until the 15th hole, and then he hit his stride.

 

 

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