Welcome to the Dew Sweeper, your one-stop shop to catch up on the weekend action from the golf world. From the professional tours, trending news, social media headlines and upcoming events, here’s every golf-related thing you need to know for the morning of Feb. 11.
Drama in the dark
The weather was biblical at Pebble Beach on Sunday. Making it fitting that golf’s Methuselah stood atop the leaderboard at round’s end.
Phil Mickelson, months away from 49 years old, owns a three-shot lead with two holes remaining as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was suspended due to darkness.
Mickelson, who began the day three shots back of Paul Casey, made the turn in 33 and tied the Englishman with a birdie at the 10th. Back-to-back bogeys from Casey gave the advantage to the five-time major winner, and Mickelson seized the opening with consecutive red figures at the 14th and 15th, reshaping the final three holes from competition into Mickelson’s fifth crowning at the Clambake.
Except that coronation will have to wait until Monday. Even by Crosby standards, Mother Nature was a fickle beast on Sunday, with heavy rains and hail causing a series of delays. Mickelson and Casey didn’t tee off until 1:09 p.m., almost three-and-a-half hours behind their scheduled time, leaving the duo to fight the fading light on the second nine. Though Mickelson wanted to continue—more on this in a moment—play was called with Casey looking at a three-footer for par on the 16th green.
Pebble’s closing holes lend themselves to theater, and Mickelson’s past is littered with, ahem, interesting finishes. Nevertheless, weeks after letting one go at the Desert Classic, Mickelson is on the precipice of career win No. 44. At an age where professional golfers have historically been sent to pasture, Mickelson continues to scorn Father Time.
“I know a lot can happen in these two holes,” he said, “and they have happened in the past, so I want to stay focused and just come out tomorrow and try to finish it off. I wish we could do it tonight.”
Phil goes full Phil
Phil wanted to keep going. Needed to, tried his damnedest to. But while Mickelson attempted to Pass Go, Casey and officials raised a stop sign.
And…well, let’s just say transparency is the residue of disappointment.
Just as delicious was what preceded it. As microphones picked up Casey saying he couldn’t see his putt, Mickelson was heard chirping back, “I can see just fine.” A more Mickelsonian response, there is not.
“I genuinely couldn’t see my putt there on 16,” Casey said. “[PGA Tour official] Mark Russell gave us the option to finish, which is why I marked it. So, hopefully, I can see what I’ve got for par, knock that one in, and then I’m going to smash it straight at it. Be aggressive on 17. And I played 18 beautifully on Thursday, good drive and hit a 3-iron into 20 feet, 15 feet. I’m going to try and do the same. And really I need to go kind of minimum birdie, birdie or birdie, eagle, and that might not be good enough, but that’s the plan.”
To Mickelson’s credit, he was diplomatic afterwards, refusing to put more fuel on the fire. That Casey is one of the more respected players on the tour didn’t hurt, or the fact, that, you know, it was so dark it appeared someone forgot to pay the electric bills.
That said, if Phil wins tomorrow, you better believe we’re in for a discourse of how the group could have finished if they would have taken his lead. It will be a thing of beauty.
Wolff wins fourth straight
Matthew Wolff made his PGA Tour debut last week in Phoenix. Judging by his tear in the amateur ranks, it won’t be long until he returns to the show.
Wolff, the Oklahoma State product whose swing is more Paul Bunyan than Paul Casey, captured his fourth straight college tournament at the Amer Ari Invitational title in Hawaii. The sophomore sensation turned in rounds of 69, 64 and 65 to win the event by three over Oregon senior Edwin Yi and Cowboys teammate Zach Bauchou.
It was the 10th time in 13 college rounds that Wolff has broken 70 this season. The 19-year-old’s four victories set an OSU sophomore record, and he’s halfway to the NCAA mark of most wins in a campaign, owned by Matt Hill and some fella named Tiger Woods.
Wolff, who posted the title-clinching point at last year’s NCAA Championship, could test the professional waters as soon as the U.S. Open. Even if he keeps the “A” by his name, expect to see plenty of Wolff on the sport’s top circuits this summer.
Two breakouts, one event
The ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia featured a revolutionary format, a collaborative mixed-gender event conducted by the European Tour, the LPGA, the PGA of Australia and Australian Ladies Professional Golf. However, though there were separate competitions, they produced the same narrative.
The narrative being “breakthrough,” as David Law—a 27-year-old Scot just five events into his rookie season—and Celine Boutier of France—playing in her second year with full-time status—emerged as champions.
Law earned his trophy by making birdie at the par-3 16th at the 13th Beach Golf Club near Melbourne, and eagle at the par-5 18th. Coupled with a double-bogey at the 17th by then-leader Wade Ormsby, Law left with a one-shot win over Ormsby and Brad Kennedy.
“My aim was to finish 3-2-4 [all birdies],” said Law, who shot a final-round 66. “My caddie and I reckoned that would get me a top-three finish. All I was trying to do was beat Brad. We had been competing hard for two days so that felt like a reasonable target. But that shot to the 18th was the most important of my life. It has changed my life really.”
Better yet, Law hit paydirt in spite of a rules snafu, calling a penalty on himself when his ball moved as he addressed it in semi-semi-rough just off the ninth fairway.
There was plenty of drama around Boutier’s W as well. The former Duke Blue Devil converted a 25-footer for birdie on the 15th and followed up with 10-foot par saves on the 16th and 17th. That was enough for a two-shot advantage over Sarah Kemp, Su Oh and Charlotte Thomas.
“I’m so excited,” said Boutier. “I’ve been working really hard for the past two years, and I’m just so happy that I was able to get my first win. I’m happy, too, with the way I handled myself today. I was struggling a little bit in the beginning, but I just held on and kept fighting until the end.”
For their efforts, Law and Boutier received the same winner’s check of $165,000.
Langer sets new benchmark
At this point it’s news if Bernhard Langer doesn’t win a Champions Tour event. After all, the man has won five straight Player of the Year honors. So that the 61-year-old German again came on top in the senior division—his latest triumph the Oasis Championship in Boca Raton, Fla.—is attention worthy in the same vessel as a “You won’t BELIEVE what Kanye said!” headline. (For the record, that second item generates a mere 18.4 million search returns on Google.)
But what is a head-turner is this: Langer’s latest win makes the two-time Masters champ the new earnings leader on the Champions circuit. His $255,000 first-prize money from the Oasis raised his career total to $27,196,504, $75,590 ahead of Hale Irwin.
Langer, whose seven-under 65 was the low round of the day and equated to a five-shot victory, now has another record in his sights: Irwin’s 45 wins (Langer has 39). If you’re one for recency bias, Langer should attain that goal by the end of this sentence.
The shot of the PGA Tour season comes from an unlikely source
Not even Tony Romo could have predicted this.
Romo, whose virtuoso at forecasting plays as an NFL broadcaster has engendered a new level of celebrity, is playing in this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. On Pebble’s 15th hole, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback looked very much the “am” in his pairing with Jim Furyk, sailing his drive into a hospitality tent.
His recovery was anything but:
A thing of beauty. Damn shame Jim Nantz wasn’t on the call though.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised. Romo did make it through the preliminary stage of Web.com Tour Q-School this fall, and played on a sponsor’s exemption last year at the PGA Tour’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. While his start in Puntacana was a rough go, he bounced back in the summer by winning the Racine Tri-Course Amateur Championship by nine shots and capturing the celebrity-centric American Century Championship.
The shot was far from a fluke, as Romo finished his round with four straight birdies. Unfortunately, Romo’s tournament was short-lived, dropping out on Saturday to attend to a personal matter in Texas, but that shot will far outlive this weekend.