Seven weeks after ending Tiger Woods’ winning streak, Phil Mickelson ended Gary Nicklaus’ dream week by winning the rain-shortened BellSouth Classic Sunday at Duluth, Ga.
Mickelson and Nicklaus squared off in a sudden-death playoff after the final round was canceled because of heavy rain that turned bunkers into beaches on the TPC at Sugarloaf.
The skies cleared just long enough for Mickelson and Nicklaus, tied at 11-under 205 after 54 holes, to go to the par-three 16th hole for a sudden-death playoff.
It didn’t last long.
Mickelson went first, and hit a high draw safely to the green, the ball spinning back even with the pin. Nicklaus followed with an eight-iron hit just heavy enough to find the bunker.
He paid dearly. The ball came to rest four inches from a lip that was 10 inches high. It looked more like Mount Everest to Nicklaus.
“Not much I could do from that position,” Nicklaus said.
He opened the blade and tried to pop it over the lip, but it caught the top of the bunker wall and spun back into the sand. His third short just missed the hole but rolled eight feet by.
Mickelson, who made his putt for birdie, said, “It would have been very nice for him to have been able to break through and get his first tournament win, [but not] at my expense.”
Mickelson earned $504,000-- each shot worth $252,000.
Tom Kite made a one-foot birdie putt on the sixth hole of a playoff with Tom Watson to win the PGA Senior tour Tradition at Scottsdale, Ariz.
Larry Nelson also finished regulation at eight-under-par 280, but bogeyed the second playoff hole, leaving Kite and Watson to duel it out for another four holes in the senior tour’s first major of the season.
On the last playoff hole, Watson bounced his tee shot over the green, and Kite dropped a six-iron a foot away from the cup.
“That lets me know what I have to do,” Watson joked with the crowd. Then he nearly did it, lofting a high, 30-foot chip that bounced once and hit the flagstick, rolling two feet to the side. “If it had caught the pin just right, it could have gone in. I scared him a little bit,” he said.
In the final round, Watson shot 68, Nelson 69 and Kite 72.
“I’m still getting used to the senior tour and what everything is like,” said Kite, who got his first win in five starts on the 50-and-over circuit. “But, golly, I mean it doesn’t get any better than this--you know, to have ‘Dueling Banjos’ with Watson is what it’s all about.”