PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Phil Mickelson reminded his fellow PGA Tour pros Saturday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am that “hitting bombs” isn’t all he can still do at 49 years old.
He showed the kind of magic around the greens that has long been a staple in his success.
“I had a pretty good day with my short game,” Mickelson said.
He only hit nine greens in regulation on a cold, windy day at Pebble Beach Golf Links but scrambled to a 5-under-par 67 to give himself a chance to win a record sixth AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He’s one shot behind Nick Taylor.
Mickelson holed out twice in the round but scared the hole a bunch more.
At the seventh, from a dicey spot requiring a delicate shot, he almost holed out, saving a par that felt like a birdie.
“Didn't go in, but it was the second best I've ever hit,” he said. “I was just trying to not make 5. I was trying to get on the green and just make a 4, give myself a putt at a par. But it came out great.”
So what was his best bunker shot?
“I made one in the final round at Memorial, Muirfield Village, the old 16th hole, from under the lip, plugged,” he said. “I holed that one.”
At the 8th, Mickelson nearly holed out another bunker shot, leaving himself another tap-in par.
“It was a pretty good day in saving shots,” he said.
At the 13th, he did hole out for a birdie from the left greenside bunker.
“It was a really good day in saving shots and hitting shots, but I'm usually OK with a wedge,” he said.
At the 14th he holed out again after botching a half wedge to the green. He chipped in for birdie from in front of the green.
“You’ve just got to get the ball in the hole some way,” he said.
After missing the 18th green to the right, leaving himself in a thick patch of grass, he opened the blade of a wedge and slashed a towering flop shot over the bunker, exciting the gallery as his ball tracked toward the hole before slipping past. He made a 5-foot birdie to close his round.
“I scored well today, on a day that wasn't easy,” Mickelson said. “The greens were firm. I thought the wind made it difficult, and I ended up playing really well and making a good score.”