Despite shots that sailed into the desert and in the water, Phil Mickelson is a winner again, on a course in Scottsdale, Ariz., that still feels like home.
Mickelson won the FBR Open by five strokes yesterday, the largest margin of victory in his 24 PGA Tour triumphs.
"It's a lot of fun for us to come back," he said. "Even though we moved away three years ago, we still consider it home."
A three-time NCAA champion at Arizona State who lived in Scottsdale until December 2001, Mickelson won the FBR -- formerly the Phoenix Open -- for the second time. He was just 25 when he won in a playoff with another Tour youngster, Justin Leonard, in 1996.
Mickelson's adventures off the fairway were offset by brilliant shots that led to four birdies in a final-round 3-under-par 68. He never led by fewer than three strokes yesterday, then capped his round with a 26-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 18th to the wild cheers of the friendly throng.
"I wasn't really trying to make it," Mickelson said. "I was trying to just get it close, and it fell in."
His daughters, 5-year-old Amanda and 3-year-old Sophia, rushed to hug their dad on the 18th green. "Daddy, there's treats after," the youngest said.
The victory in the $5.2 million event was worth $936,000, about $700,000 more than Mickelson earned when he won the same tournament nine years ago.
Mickelson finished at 17-under 267 on the Tournament Players Club course. Scott McCarron and Kevin Na, at 21 the youngest player on the PGA Tour, tied for second at 272.
McCarron shot his second consecutive 65, and Na had a 69. Na played in the final group with Mickelson and faltered before rallying with birdies on the 14th and 17th for his best finish in his two years on the Tour.
Steve Flesch, Tim Herron, and David Toms finished at 273. Toms would have finished in second place but double-bogeyed the 18th.
"To have this win in a tournament I value and cherish so much," Mickelson said, "it really means a lot. It's the first time I've won since the Masters, too." European --Craig Parry ended Ernie Els's three-year reign in the
Cancer survivor Jarrod Lyle, a 23-year-old Australian, bogeyed the 18th to tie for third with England's Simon Dyson at 13 under. Lyle, who spent a year in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia in 1999, shot a 71, and Dyson had a 68.
Els shot a 70 to finish at 12 under.