tampabay.com

Mickelson wins in playoff

Associated Press
Published April 5, 2005


DULUTH, Ga. - Phil Mickelson is headed to Augusta with a win, his usual smile and the proper mind-set.

Mickelson made a birdie putt from 13 feet on the fourth playoff hole Monday to win the BellSouth Classic over Rich Beem and give the defending Masters champion even more confidence heading into the opening round of the season's first major.

"It gives me some momentum to take to Augusta," he said.

After a rocky front nine, shooting a 1-over 37, Mickelson had a 32 on the back with four birdies and no bogeys, including a 10-footer on No. 18 to finish at 69 and get into the playoff.

"On the front I hit it horrible, but putted great. The back nine I hit it terrific," said Mickelson, who needed only one putt on six of his first nine holes.

"I don't plan on hitting into trouble next week, but it's nice to know I can recover," he said.

Mickelson, Jose Maria Olazabal, Beem, Brandt Jobe and Arjun Atwal tied at 8-under 208 after the final round in the rain-shortened 54-hole tournament to set up the five-man playoff.

Jobe and Atwal were eliminated on the first playoff hole and Olazabal was out after the third playoff hole.

"There were probably six to 10 people who could have won this tournament. I don't know how I dodged the bullet," said Mickelson. "I'm looking forward to the Masters."

Mickelson won it on the par 17, 455-yard 17th hole when he hit his drive in the fairway and put his second shot 13 feet from the hole before sinking the putt.

Beem, who hasn't won since the PGA championship in 2002, hit into a fairway bunker on the final playoff hole. His second shot was about 20 yards short of the green where he pitched to about 2 feet, setting up a par putt which wasn't needed.

Olazabal, the two-time Masters champion, had a chance to win on the par 5, 576-yard 18th in regulation to avoid a playoff, but missed a 5-foot birdie putt and settled for par and 69.

He also had a second chance to win on the first playoff hole, missing another 5-foot birdie putt on No. 18. He was eliminated on the third playoff hole when he hit two balls in the water on 18.