Phil Mickelson doffed his cap to an adoring and applauding crowd in the grandstands overlooking the 18th green at the Scottish Open, and walked to the side of the putting surface to hug his wife and three children.
It was a similar scene 20 minutes later — this time with Mickelson having seized his second chance to secure a first victory in Europe in 20 years.
Mickelson beat Branden Grace in a playoff Sunday after putting himself, his family and his growing legion of Scottish fans through a tense finale on a wild final day on the Castle Stuart links.
“Nobody likes a movie that is predictable,” said Mickelson, who appears to be as popular in the Highlands as he is back in California. “You always want to have a little bit of suspense.”
After overcoming a terrible start to his last round and wiping out a five-shot deficit to overnight leader Henrik Stenson, Mickelson only needed two putts for par on the 72nd hole to complete the perfect preparation for next week’s British Open at Muirfield.
From the fringe, 15 feet out, his putt raced past the hole and his return effort from 5 feet clipped the edge of the cup and stayed out.
That meant a new duel with Grace, who shot a 69 like Mickelson in the final round to finish at 17-under 271.
Before heading back up the par-5 18th, Lefty embraced his family, who had been waiting nearby hoping to celebrate with him.
“This tournament, it’s special to me ... to play well at the Home of Golf really means a lot to me,” he said.
PGA: Jordan Spieth can say that he’s accomplished something that Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy never did.
Spieth won a PGA Tour event as a teenager — and now he’s joining all those stars at next week’s British Open.
The 19-year-old outlasted David Hearn and Zach Johnson on the fifth hole of a playoff to win the John Deere Classic, becoming the youngest winner on the PGA Tour in 82 years.
Spieth, a Dallas native who doesn’t turn 20 for another two weeks, hit a short par putt to earn a spot in the field at Muirfield.
He is the first teenager to win since Ralph Guldahl took the Santa Monica Open in 1931.
“I didn’t think it would happen this early,” said Spieth, who turned pro in December after an All-American season as a freshman at the University of Texas.
“I had a plan. I guess the plan got exceeded.”
Spieth started the day six shots behind third-round leader Daniel Summerhays.
But Spieth forced his way into the playoff with three straight birdies. The last came when he holed out of the bunker from 44 feet, delighting a crowd that had expected to see Johnson, the hometown favorite, defend his title.
“The shot on 18 was the luckiest shot I ever hit in my life,” Spieth said. “The fact that it bounced right and hit the pin and dropped down to the cup, it’s just extremely fortunate.”
LPGA: Hee Young Park and Angela Stanford both put up birdies on their first three tries at the 18th hole at Grey Silo Golf Course.
Stanford finally blinked on the deciding playoff hole and Park kept her birdie streak alive for the victory at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.
USGA: Kenny Perry completed his comeback from 10 shots down after the second round to win the U.S. Senior Open. Perry shot a final-round 63 at the Omaha Country Club and won his second straight senior major.