Torrey Pines was the backdrop to Phil Mickelson’s Southern California childhood success story but over the last few years Riviera has become his new home.
After redemption in 2008 at Hogan’s Alley after a runner-up finish the year before, Lefty found solace again at Riviera last season after missing the cut in his season debut at TPC Scottsdale. And this week Mickelson returns to defend back-to-back titles after suffering another blow to his self-esteem.
Last week Mickelson entered the final round at Torrey Pines in contention. He flew in Butch Harmon for a last minute lesson, but instead of striking hot, Lefty battled his way to a 19th-place finish after bogeying the first three holes. Leaking oil on Sunday is never good, but the bigger blow suffered by Mickelson has been the heat he’s taken for playing the Ping Eye 2.
At the start of the week, the groove debate was far from over. But now as Phil’s attempt at his third consecutive title gets underway in the shadow of the Hollywood hills, conversations about the Ping Eye 2 seem to be dying down. The world’s No. 2 is ready to again find refuge at the Northern Trust Open. With some of the groove debate out of the way, I say count on the three-peat.