Fine. We were wrong. Phil didn’t win Riviera like we predicted, but you’ve got to admit, he was so close.
Fresh off last week’s win at Pebble Beach, Mickleson led the tournament at 7-under going into Sunday’s round at Riviera, with Bradley and Haas hot on his heels. He bogeyed back-to-back holes putting Haas up by a stroke. But the 18th hole–a hole that allowed only 6 birdies all day–gave up birdies for both Mickleson and Bradley–Lefty sank a jaw-clenching, fist pumping 25+ foot putt and Bradley shot a 12+ foot putt. The gallery flew into a full blown frenzy with grown men actually rolling around on the ground and Phil and Keegan flew into a 2-hold playoff with Bill Haas, who heard the gallery’s cheers from the practice range.
It seemed that the wheels were falling off on the second hole of the playoff match. Haas hit his second shot into the rough behind a bunker high enough to force him to play it safe, leaving himself a ridiculously long birdie putt that would at least ensure him par. Mickleson put his second shot into the back side of a bunker leaving him in need of a miracle for birdie, and Bradley’s shot hit the back edge of the green, leaving him about 15 feet from the pin.
Haas lined up his birdie shot flawlessly, sinking the putt for a birdie, leaving no chance for Mickleson to win. Bradley missed his birdie shot by less than an inch, and Haas won the most exciting Sunday playoff we’ve seen in quite some time. If this is any indication of how 2012 is going to be, we certainly can’t wait to watch.
Maybe the media can finally stop debating whether or not golf needs Tiger. Yesterday proved that there are better players in the field who are capable of creating exciting performances sure to draw a crowd. The size of yesterday’s gallery proves that golf can do just fine without Tiger.