Mickelson Wins at Colonial with Clutch Putt

By Associated PressMay 25, 2008, 4:00 pm
Crowne Plaza Invitational at ColonialFT. WORTH, Texas -- Phil Mickelson made a 9-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a one-stroke victory at the Crowne Plaza Invitational over Tim Clark and Rod Pampling, who led by two strokes going to the back nine Sunday.
 
It was the 34th career victory for Mickelson, who began the final round with a one-stroke lead. But like he did the day before, Mickelson fell behind before regaining the lead on his final putt of the day.
 
Mickelson had a closing 2-under 68 to finish at 14-under 266. Mickelson won at Colonial in 2000, and has won 11 tournaments multiple times.
 
After saving par out of a greenside bunker at 188-yard 16th, Pampling still led by a stroke.
 
But on the ensuing drive at the 382-yard 17th, Pampling (68) hit the ball way right toward a ditch. He had to take a penalty stroke after a drop'though that put his ball where it could be seen rather than buried in heavy rough at the edge of a concrete gully. He managed to get the approach shot into a bunker, then blasted to 4 feet, pushing both arms in the air before tapping in the bogey. That came after Mickelson had two-putted from 28 feet for par.
 
Mickelson still kept it interesting, pushing his final drive well left into the rough between trees. Pampling put his drive in the center of the fairway.
 
Lefty calmly hit the shot, then took a couple of steps before jogging out of the trees to see the ball fall near the flag. Pampling left his approach 38 feet away, making his par after Mickelson made the winning putt.
 
Pampling may have still done enough to get into the top 50 for a spot in the U.S. Open.
 
Clark had birdies at Nos. 16 and 17 to get to 13 under'and tied for the lead'that same stretch where Pampling first saved his lead only to blew it after his next shot.
 
Pampling hit his tee shot at 16 into the right greenside bunker, and blasted within 9 feet. After Mickelson made par, Pampling took extra time to examine his line and then saved par, and his one-stroke lead, pumping his right fist hard in the air as the ball dropped into the hole.
 
As Mickleson and Pampling were finishing No. 17, Clarks 14-foot birdie chance at the closing hole curled just short and he finished with a round of 66.
 
Stephen Ames (70) finished fourth at 269, a stroke ahead of Ben Crane (67).
 
Mickelson earned $1.098 million, nearly double the $594,000 check he got for winning the last Colonial eight years ago, and surpassed $49 million in career earnings. He is the 11th player to win multiple times at Hogans Alley, where five-time champion Ben Hogan is the only golfer to win more than twice.
 
Mickelson was back within a stroke after getting on the green at the 611-yard 11th in two, then two-putting from 33 feet. Pampling, the Australian native who lives in nearby Flower Mound and gets to play Colonial often, hit his first two shots at the hole out of the rough before a 13-foot birdie chance stopped right by the hole.
 
But they kept matching pars after that'until the final two holes.
 
When Mickelson got to the 6th tee in front of the huge scoreboard Sunday, he still had a one-stroke lead over Pampling. That was the spot the day before when Mickelson realized he had dropped out of the lead and three strokes behind Pampling, who was in a different group then.
 
But Mickelson didnt hold his lead much longer.
 
After driving into the right rough at the 394-yard hole, Mickelsons shot from there hit a tree branch and ricocheted left into the fairway, though he managed to save par after hitting the third shot within 3 1/2 feet. But Pampling got even with a 48-foot birdie putt off the fringe, after coming out of his stance once and turning around to ask a spectator to turn off their phone.
 
Then at No. 7, Pampling outdrove Mickelson by 60 yards and made a 7-foot birdie putt to get to 13 under, a stroke ahead.
 
Pampling made it a two-stroke lead after his approach at No. 9 was within 4 feet for another birdie. Mickelsons 16-foot attempt slid right of the hole.
 
Ames began the day tied with Pampling for second place, but came up short on some early chances and couldnt stay out of the bunkers.
 
Clark, who hasnt won yet on the PGA TOUR, got to 11 under with birdies at Nos. 6 and 8, the latter a par-3 where he made a 20-foot putt. But Clark had only pars until his consecutive birdies late.
 
Divots
 
Mickelson is the seventh Colonial winner who had at least a share of the 54-hole lead. Geoff Ogilvy, the No. 7-ranked player, followed an opening 72 with three subpar rounds and finished tied for seventh at 273. Oglivy and Mickelson were the only of the five top-10 players in the field to make the cut.
 
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”