Phil Mickelson’s battling birdie at the final hole gave the world No. 2 a one-stroke victory on Sunday at the US$5.5 million Colonial.
Mickelson’s poor drive at the par-four finishing hole left him with a shot blocked by a clump of trees. But he lofted a wedge over the obstacle and his ball hit the front of the green and rolled up 2.7m from the pin.
He calmly knocked in the birdie putt to claim a one-shot victory over Australian Rod Pampling and South African Tim Clark.
“You have to take risks to win and I tried to do that,” said Mickelson, who said he had to thread his ball over one tree and under another.
“I’m as surprised as anybody I was able to make a three from over there. I’m thinking if I make par and get into a playoff, that would be great. It wasn’t like it was an easy shot, but it came off. It was one of my more memorable ones,” he said.
Mickelson carded a 68 for a 14-under-par total of 266 and his 34th victory on the US PGA Tour.
He claimed his second title of the year, but he trailed most of the day.
Pampling had led for much of the final round, and was in front by one with two to play.
However, his drive found a hazard at 17 and he had to take a penalty. He salvaged a bogey and arrived at 18 in a three-way tie for the lead.
He followed a solid drive at 18 with an indifferent second shot, then left his birdie try almost 1.5m short.
But Pampling hit a poor 2-iron off the 17th tee, and it found the hazard on the right.
He was forced to take a penalty stroke and his third shot was plugged in a greenside bunker. From there Pampling got up and down for a bogey to arrive at 18 in a three-way tie for the lead.
Clark, playing in front, had a birdie putt at 18 from 4.6m that he left short, finishing with a 66.
At 18 Pampling hit a solid drive, but he couldn’t answer Mickelson’s heroics.
“You get to expect him to do that,” Pampling said. “Those guys play those kind of shots. I thought I was in great position. I was obviously disheartened.”
Mickelson had started the round with a one-shot lead over Pampling, but the 38-year-old Aussie pulled even with a tap-in birdie at the par-five first.
Mickelson regained the lead with a tap-in birdie at the second, and was two up after Pampling bogeyed three.
Mickelson bogeyed the fifth, firing his approach shot over the green, and Pampling snaked in a 15m birdie putt at the next to pull even again.
Pampling took the lead with a 1.8m birdie at seven, and made a short birdie at nine to double his advantage before Mickelson two-putted for birdie at the par-five 11th to narrow the gap to one again.