SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Phil Mickelson's 5-iron shot sailed long and right on the par-3 seventh, stopping an inch from the fringe and leaving him in danger of losing at least a stroke to playing partner Brandt Snedeker.
Mickelson ended up leaving Snedeker shaking his head and went on to complete a wire-to-wire victory Sunday for his third Phoenix Open title, winning by four shots at TPC Scottsdale.
Fifty-five feet away, with a mound and a 20-foot swath of fringe between his ball and the hole, Mickelson decided to putt through the taller grass rather than chip over it. He had caddie Jim Mackay remove the flagstick so it wouldn't deflect the ball if it had too much speed, a move that proved wise when the ball raced into the cup.
"The challenge of that was to judge the speed where half the putt is through fringe and half is on the green," Mickelson said. "I got lucky to have made it, obviously. I was just trying to two-putt it. It was going fairly quickly when it got to the hole, probably would have been six, eight feet by. With Brandt in there close, that was a big momentum change."
Snedeker joked with Mickelson before holing his own birdie putt.
"Are you kidding me?" Snedeker said about his reaction to the putt. "I fully expected Phil to hit a flop shot from there. He didn't have much of a putt, and he putted through it.
"I hit a great shot in there close, and I thought, 'Hey, I can get one on him here and put some pressure on him.' He makes that, and he let me hear about it before I putt, and he let me know that I needed to make that to tie. We had fun with it. That's Phil being Phil."
Mickelson shot a 4-under-par 67 to finish at 28-under 256, two strokes off the PGA Tour record of 254 set by Tommy Armour III in the 2003 Texas Open. He tied the tournament scoring record set by Mark Calcavecchia in 2001. Snedeker came in second after a 65.
Mickelson had struggled the last two weeks tying for 37th at La Quinta in his opener and 51st at Torrey Pines and making news by talking about tax increases.
"It's an important one for me, because it's been awhile since I won, been awhile since I've been in contention," Mickelson said. "I was certainly nervous heading into today. I think the thing I'm most excited about was the way I was able to regain control of my thoughts after a few shots early on that I didn't care for."
Mickelson missed a chance for a 59 in the first round when his birdie putt on the final hole caught the right edge of the cup, curled 180 degrees and stayed out. He settled for a 60 and followed with rounds of 65 and 64 to take a six-stroke lead into the final round.
"I think that sets up the tone for the rest of the year, because I really started to play well," Mickelson said. "But for me, the rest of the year took a turn on Tuesday when I got my new driver. It just changed my whole deal."
Mickelson posted his third wire-to-wire victory and first since the 2006 BellSouth Classic. He pushed his victory total to 41, winning for the first time since 51 weeks ago at Pebble Beach, where he will go for a record-tying fifth victory this weekend.
The crowd Sunday was estimated at 58,791 for a weekly total of 525,821, short of the record of 538,356 set in 2008.
European Tour in Dubai, United Arab Emirates Stephen Gallacher of Scotland eagled the 16th hole and won the Dubai Desert Classic, overcoming bogeys on the first two holes to beat Richard Sterne of South Africa by three shots. Gallacher had a 1-under 71 for a 22-under 266 total.
European Ladies Tour in Gold Coast, Australia Karrie Webb won the Australian Ladies Masters for the eighth time, rallying from two strokes behind with birdies on three of her last five holes. She had a 5-under 67 for a 13-under 203 total and a two-stroke victory.