The Eagle Does Not Land

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 31, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Eagle Does Not Land


Byline: Associated Press

Bubba Watson tempered his celebration when he rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday at Torrey Pines, knowing Phil Mickelson could still make eagle on the par-5 closing hole to catch him.

It played out just as Watson imagined, right down to Mickelson's caddie tending the pin on the eagle attempt.

There was just one twist -- Mickelson wasn't anywhere near the green.

In a surprising decision that gave way to brief drama, Mickelson laid up on the 18th hole and had to settle for a birdie when his lob wedge from 72 yards away stopped 4 feet short of the hole.

The winner of the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego turned out to be Watson, who made clutch putts on the final two holes for a 5-under 67 and was sitting in the scoring trailer at the end, oblivious to how the final hole played out.

"I don't know how close he hit it. I don't know what he made on the hole," Watson said. "I just know that I won, because that's all I was worried about. If he makes it, I'm getting ready for a playoff. So I'm trying not to get too emotional. I realize it's Phil Mickelson. He can make any shot he wants to."

Just not this one.

So ended a bizarre week along the Pacific bluffs. A lefty won at Torrey Pines, just not the one Mickelson's hometown gallery wanted to see. Mickelson, the ultimate risk-taker of his era, opened himself up to criticism on the final hole because -- get this -- he played it safe.

Mickelson offered no apologies for his decision to lay up.

His lie in the left rough looked to be OK, although the grain of the grass was into his ball and he had 228 yards to the flag. …

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