Two weeks ago, Phil Mickelson, 48, the man who appears to be ageless, came out on top at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at the so-very-scenic Pebble Beach Golf Links. Phil’s been working hard on his game and admitted that some of his hard work had paid off in his win at Pebble, but he expects the real payback could be at Augusta this year, where he has already won three times.
Normally, as golfers age and get closer to the 50+ Club, they hit the ball shorter off the tee, and their putting gets more undependable (dare I say “yipes?”). Lefty will turn 50 during the 2020 U.S. Open, so normally he would be a candidate for that 50+ club, but I don’t think Phil will be applying for membership anytime soon.
Right now, Phil is swinging his driver six miles an hour faster than a year ago, which is incredible. He won this year at Pebble with wet, soggy, no-roll on the ball conditions. In June, when the U.S. Open is played at Pebble Beach, conditions will most likely be warmer, dryer, and firmer, typical of the season. Playing the U.S. Open there in June will be a lot different and Phil will need his newly added distance and swing speed that he has worked so hard to create. After finishing second six times, I’d really like to see Phil finally win the U.S. Open and complete his Career Grand Slam, something only five players in the history of the game have accomplished.
There were a couple of interesting aspects that surfaced after Phil’s win at Pebble. First, it was the fifth time he had won there and, just at the Pebble venue alone, over the years he has earned more money there than Jack Nicklaus had in his entire career. And another first that he needed some help with — for the first time in Tour history the combined ages of the winner on the Champions Tour and the winner on the PGA Tour exceeded 100. With Phil’s 48 years and Bernhard Langer’s 61, the combined age of the winners was 109 to be exact.
After the wet and soggy Pebble Beach, the Tour made its way to the bright lights of Los Angeles. Tiger Woods was the tournament host and Riviera the course and once again, the weather was atrocious. It was the LA Open at Riviera, where Jack Nicklaus earned his first check on Tour in 1962 for a whopping $33. Interesting to note that both Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have never won this event.
The last man standing at this Genesis Open was J.B. Holmes. Even though the conditions were challenging with wind, rain, and cold, I must say it was not easy to watch as the final threesome took five hours and 29 minutes to play the last 18 holes. Holmes was such a good player in his youth that he even played on his high school varsity golf team when he was just in the third grade.
With this win, J.B. Holmes notched his fifth PGA Tour victory, which is pretty remarkable for someone who underwent brain surgery in 2011. The doctors had discovered a defect in his cerebellum. J.B. knows just how lucky he is and he even keeps the section of his brain they removed in a jar in his office as a visual reminder.
While it was a great week for J.B. Holmes, it was not so hot for Tiger, who three-putted four times and eventually tied for 15th, but it was much worse for Jordan Spieth, who couldn’t sink a three-footer and who couldn’t find a fairway in the final round, to post an 81 to finish in a tie for 51st.
Well, the Tour heads to Mexico this week and with that victory at Riviera, J.B. Holmes has now qualified to be in the no-cut big money field.