Phil Mickelson was moping around the Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course, posting a ho-hum even par on his first nine (the back) in the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Then, the sunny skies from the morning turned to overcast skies and eventually rain, which hadn’t been in the forecast, started to fall steadily (and annoyingly) on his second nine.
About the same time the weather rolled in, Mickelson, who hasn’t been known for his prowess in wet and windy conditions, experienced a change in his mood and game, which eventually led to his splendid eight-under 64 in Sunday’s final round to cruise to the winner’s circle for the fourth time at Pebble Beach.
Amy Mickelson, his wife, flew in on Friday morning and lifted her husband’s spirits — and his game — with her bright smile and positive energy, along with a few words of support when she showed up on the 3rd tee at MPCC.
“What I think was the change in momentum for him was that at MPCC when the weather turned. I was at -10 and finished at -7,” said Kevin Na, who played with Mickelson in the first three rounds. “He was at -4 and finished at -7. The chip-in on No. 4 from 45 yards was key to changing the momentum for him.”
It’s no coincidence that Mickelson chipped in right after his wife arrived.
Mickelson’s pro-am partner, Barclays’ executive Skip McGee, agreed with Na’s assessment.
“The other thing that happened was that she showed up at No. 3,” said McGee, pointing at Amy, who was standing a few feet behind me. “He had five birdies on the back nine, including four of the last five holes.”
Jim “Bones” Mackay, Mickelson’s caddie, also noticed the transformation.
“The crazy thing was, at MPCC he shot par his first nine holes in perfect conditions, and then he shot 29 on the back in horrific conditions,” Mackay said on Sunday. “I think he picked up a lot of momentum from that and carried it to today.”
While Amy wouldn’t take credit for helping Phil shift the momentum back his way, she didn’t need to because her husband readily did.
“ I was moping,” admitted Mickelson, who fired a five-under 65 in the second round to surge into contention before eventually winning by two in Sunday’s final round. “I mean, like I was moping. It was terrible. And she said, ‘Come on now, cheer up, let’s go make some birdies, come on,’ and she was so positive and it just changed my attitude, (along with) playing one of my favorite golf courses…And I ended up making some birdies.
“I didn’t even really think I was in position to win at the moment but I just had a nice round. And it was really an attitude change that she instilled coming out with her bubbly, positive attitude that got me going. I told her that in the car that it wouldn’t have been possible without that talk.”
Mickelson likely also had confidence because of his recent success when facing Woods head-to-head. In the last 12 times he and Woods have been paired, Mickelson has beaten him eight times, including this week. Mickelson, 41, clearly thrives when paired with Woods, but that wasn’t always the case.
“I feel like he brings out the best in me,” Mickelson said. “It’s only been the past five years. Before, I got spanked pretty good. Let’s not forget the big picture here; I’ve been beat up. But the last five years, I’ve been able to get some of my best golf out when we play together.”
And this screenshot of SI.com’s front page sums up one heck of week (I think I blacked out by Wednesday), but I really enjoyed the opportunity to cover the event as the primary correspondent for SI/Golf.com at Pebble. (Sorry, it’s a little hard to read the fine print below the main headline and pictures, but try squinting — I hear that helps.)
‘Til next time.
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)