2005: Phil’s Fantastic Finish
Champion: Phil Mickelson, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Site: Baltusrol Golf Club -- Springfield, N.J.
Date: Aug. 11-14
Par: 34-36--70 (7,392 yards)
Field: 156 Cut at 150 (79 players advanced)
SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) -- Phil Mickelson delivered another dramatic finish in a major on Monday, flopping a chip out of deep rough to 2 feet for a birdie on the final hole and a one-shot victory in the PGA Championship.
The putt wasn't nearly as long as his 18-footer to win the Masters last year, and there was no need to jump for joy this time.
Still, it was a sweet conclusion to a major championship season that had gone sour until he put together his best golf of the summer stretched over five days at Baltusrol by a storm-delayed final round.
It was the first Monday finish at the PGA Championship in 19 years. And not since 1986 at Inverness had a player from the last group won with a birdie on the 72nd hole at the final major.
Bob Tway got his by holing a bunker shot to deny Greg Norman. Mickelson's chip from about 50 feet wasn't nearly dramatic, but it was no less effective.
Steve Elkington, then Thomas Bjorn, came to the 554-yard closing hole with a chance to make birdie. Elkington grazed the left edge of the cup from 10 feet. Bjorn pulled his second shot into the left bunker and blasted to 20 feet, his putt looking good all the way until it caught the inside edge of the cup and spun out.
Mickelson was 247 yards away, some 10 yards behind the plaque in the fairway that commemorated the 1-iron Jack Nicklaus hit to the green in 1967 to win the U.S. Open. He tapped it twice with his 4-wood for luck, but the shot came up short in grass that covered the tops of his shoes.
The flop came out perfect, and Mickelson raised his arms and lightly pumped his fist twice. The final putt was merely a tap-in, giving Lefty another year with a major trophy.
"It was a shot that I struggled with out of the rough this week," Mickelson said. "I tried to remember some of the shots I hit as a kid in my backyard. I hit it aggressively, and the ball popped up nicely, and it rolled smoothly."
Mickelson closed with a 2-over 72, playing the final four holes Monday morning at even par.
He joined Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and Curtis Strange as the only players in the last 20 years to win majors in consecutive years.
"If there's anybody you'd back to get up-and-down from there, it's Phil Mickelson," Bjorn said. "He's not a one-major guy, he's a 10-major guy. And it's going to be easier and easier for him to win them now."
Mickelson finished at 4-under 276 and earned $1.17 million for his fourth victory of the year, matching Woods and Vijay Singh for the most on the PGA Tour this year. He also moved ahead of Ernie Els to No. 3 in the world rankings.
Elkington shot 71 and Bjorn had a 72, both leaving Baltusrol haunted by missed chances.
"There's a lot to be said to be the last guy out there, having the final say," Elkington said. "Thomas and I both had good chances to birdie 18 and couldn't do it."
His par to finish at 3-under 277 meant Woods was free to leave.
Woods finished birdie-birdie Sunday afternoon before thunderstorms arrived and had to wait to make sure the half-dozen guys still on the course and in contention didn't falter.
He wound up tied with Davis Love III for fourth, two shots behind. Woods has to settle for winning the Masters and British Open this year, missing out on the calendar Grand Slam by a combined four strokes.
Bjorn dropped a shot when play resumed by missing a 6-footer on the 15th, got it back with a clutch birdie on the par-5 17th from 12 feet, and was stunned when his birdie putt on the last refused to fall.
"I had a putt that pretty much the whole world didn't think would miss, but it did," he said. "That's what golf is sometimes. The best guy won this week."
Singh had an outside chance to become only the second repeat PGA champion in the stroke-play era, but he missed a 10-foot par putt on the 16th when play resumed, bogeyed the 18th and wound up with a 74 to tie for 10th.
Love, playing with Mickelson in the final group, missed birdie chances on every hole by either leaving himself too far from the flag or failing to hole the putts he so desperately needed. He wound up with a 74.
The Monday morning finish slightly dampened the high-charged atmosphere at Baltusrol, although it didn't take Mickelson & Co. long to fire up the crowd in the 56 minutes of golf.
Lefty quickly rolled in a 3-footer to clean up his par on the 14th, but while no one in the three groups ahead could make a move, Mickelson came back to them by catching a plugged lie in the bunker on the par-3 16th. He could only blast out to 20 feet and made bogey.
He was in the fairway on the 650-yard 17th -- no longer reachable because of rain-softened fairways -- but his 10-foot birdie putt caught the right lip.
Once he realized Elkington and Bjorn failed to birdie the final hole, it came down to Mickelson.
"I knew that I needed to make birdie, I thought maybe to tie," Mickelson said. "I walked off the tee and saw par for Bjorn. When I hit the second shot, I knew I needed birdie to win, which was a nice feeling."
It was especially pleasing considering how his year in the majors had gone.
Despite three victories in the first three months of the season, Mickelson came up empty in the Grand Slam events. The only noise he made at the Masters was his flap with Singh over spike marks. He took himself out of contention at the U.S. Open with a 41 on the front nine of his second round, and he tied for 60th in the British Open at St. Andrews.
Pouring everything he had into a major dubbed "Glory's Last Shot," Mickelson emerged anew as a continuous threat to Woods' pursuit of the record 18 majors won by Nicklaus.
And he did it on a course where Nicklaus won two of his majors.
"This has been an absolutely amazing week," Mickelson said.
He gathered his three children for a group hug on the 18th green and hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy before thousands of adoring New York-area fans.
This time, he gave them something to cheer.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.