Mickelson wins BellSouth in a playoff

Posted: Tuesday, April 05, 2005


  Phil Mickelson poses with the trophy after winning the BellSouth Classic Monday, April 4, 2005 in Duluth, Ga. Mickelson won on the fourth hole of a playoff. JOHN BAZEMORE

Phil Mickelson poses with the trophy after winning the BellSouth Classic Monday, April 4, 2005 in Duluth, Ga. Mickelson won on the fourth hole of a playoff.


DULUTH, Ga. — Phil Mickelson is headed to Augusta with a win, his usual smile and the proper mind-set.

Mickelson made a birdie putt from 13 feet on the fourth playoff hole Monday to win the BellSouth Classic over Rich Beem and give the defending Masters champion even more confidence heading into the season's first major.

''It gives me some momentum to take to Augusta,'' he said.

After a rocky front nine, shooting a 1-over 37, Mickelson had a 32 on the back with four birdies and no bogeys, including a 10-footer on No. 18 to finish at 69 and get into the playoff.

''On the front I hit it horrible, but putted great. The back nine I hit it terrific,'' said Mickelson, who needed only one putt on six of his first nine holes.

''I don't plan on hitting into trouble next week, but it's nice to know I can recover,'' he said.

Mickelson, Jose Maria Olazabal, Beem, Brandt Jobe and Arjun Atwal tied at 8-under 208 after the final round in the rain-shortened 54-hole tournament to set up the five-man playoff.

Both Jobe and Atwal hit into the water on the par-5 18th on the first extra hole and were eliminated.

''There were probably six to 10 people who could have won this tournament. I don't know how I dodged the bullet,'' said Mickelson. ''I'm looking forward to the Masters.''

Mickelson won it on the par-4, 455-yard 17th hole when he hit his drive in the fairway and put his second shot 13 feet from the hole before sinking the putt.

Beem, who hasn't won since the PGA championship in 2002, hit into a fairway bunker on the final playoff hole. His second shot was about 20 yards short of the green where he pitched to about 2 feet, setting up a par putt which wasn't needed.

''I'm bummed out the way that everything finished. But I've got to be happy with how I handled myself,'' said Beem. ''It's been a long time since I've been in this position and I had an absolute gas doing it.

''The only thing I would change obviously is the outcome, but I can't do that,'' he said.

Olazabal, the two-time Masters champion, had a chance to win on the 576-yard 18th in regulation to avoid a playoff, but missed a 5-foot birdie putt and settled for par and 69.

He also had a second chance to win on the first playoff hole, missing another 5-foot birdie putt on No. 18. He was eliminated on the third playoff hole when he hit two balls in the water on 18.

''I had a chance to win it (in regulation) and didn't. Had a second chance and missed it,'' said Olazabal, who also heads to the Masters with his game in pretty good shape.

Mickelson, Beem (68), Jobe (67) and Atwal (64), a native of India and a regular on the Asian tour for eight years, each birdied their last hole to earn a playoff berth along with Olazabal.

Mickelson and Beem had pars on the first playoff hole to advance to the second playoff hole along with Olazabal. Jobe and Atwal each hit into the water that guarded the green on 18.

Olazabal, Mickelson and Beem each parred the second playoff hole (No. 17) to send it back to 18.

Mickelson and Beem each advanced to the fourth playoff hole with tap-in birdies on No. 18.

With the weather sunny and in the 70s, the scores came down Monday after play was washed out by rain on Thursday and Friday and delayed 99 minutes on Saturday at the TPC at Sugar Loaf.

Scott McCarron, who led by a stroke entering the final round and won here in 1997 and 2001, shot a 76 and was well back at 214. Defending champion Zach Johnson had a 72 and was at 213.

Mickelson, the tour's leading money-winner, earned $900,000 of the $5 million purse for his third win of the year.

The world's No. 4 player had a strange round as he prepared for Thursday's opening round at Augusta.

Mickelson wound up with seven birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey in regulation. He was all over the course with his driver on the opening nine, hitting into water twice and drawing a 1-shot penalty on each. He also tried to hit out of a creek bed and moved it only a foot on No. 9 for bogey.

''My swing started to feel good on the back. Somehow I hung in there and got lucky,'' he said.

Frank Lickliter (68), Scott Dunlap (69), Arron Oberholser (69), and Tag Ridings (69) finished a stroke behind the leaders at 209. Lickliter was at 8 under playing the 18th when he went for the green and found the water.

Rain has affected eight of the 14 tournaments on tour so far this year.

Divots: The BellSouth field had 25 entrants also playing at the Masters. Only 11 made it to Monday's final round. Six withdrew from the tournament and eight failed to make the cut.

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