Phil Mickelson put down a marker for 2013 with a blistering four-shot victory at last week’s Phoenix Open and he’s ready to do the same at his treasured Pebble Beach National Pro-Am this week.
The 42-year-old defending champion may have won four of his 41 career titles at Pebble Beach but his connection with the stunning links course runs much deeper than the $4,584,657 earnings he’s accumulated here down the years.
It does involve one dollar, though.
Mickelson’s grandfather, Al Santos, grew up in Montereyand had to leave school in the fourth grade to go to work. He was a caddie at Del Monte Golf Course and was among the first caddies to work at a new golf course that opened in 1919 called Pebble Beach.
“He always felt poor and there were many days where he wasn’t able to eat,” said the new World No.10.
Santos kept a silver dollar from 1900 in his pocket that he never spent. Instead, he rubbed the coin whenever he felt poor, a small comfort to know he had money. He died in 2004, just months before Mickelson won the first of his four majors at The Masters.
“I have that silver dollar today,” added the 42-year-old. “I’ve used it during the Pebble Beach Pro-Am as a marker, and will continue to do so.
“And he used to work, I believe, for 35 cents a bag around that course. And it’s just a cool feeling to have the money that he cherished and also to see what we are now playing for in prize money, and how far the game of golf has come. It’s a great reminder for me.”
Mickelson said his grandfather gave him an old Krugerrand that he keeps, along with some 50-cent pieces Mickelson’s father gave him, and military coins he has collected over the years. But that 1900 silver dollar is special.
Mickelson will start as a red-hot favourite to win back-to-back events and tie Mark O’Meara on a record five wins in the event after falling narrowly short of the sixth 59 in history and the 72-hole PGA Tour scoring record at TPC Scottsdale last week.
But it will no easy task for Lefty given the current form of 2012 FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker, who has finished runner-up in his last two events, and the course form of Dustin Johnson, who won consecutive tournaments in 2009 and 2010.
If you’re unfamiliar to this event, celebrities join the pros for the first three rounds, staged across Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula, and the pros fortunate to make the cut on Saturday compete in the final round on the famous Pebble Beach.
Click here for a closer look around Pebble Beach.
Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Pebble Beach, California
Thursday February 7 to Sunday February 10
Pebble Beach: Par 72; 6,816 yards
Spyglass Hill: Par 72; 6,858 yards
MontereyPeninsula: Par 70; 6,838 yards
$6,500,000 (winner: $1,152,000)
Phil Mickelson (-17)
Most wins: 5 (Mark O’Meara 1985, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1997)
Lowest score to par: -20 (Mark O’Meara 1997; Phil Mickelson 2007)
Did you know?
The event was originally known as the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am from 1937 to 1986.
Defending champion Mickelson produced some of the best form of his career last week and looks tempting as the 7/1 jolly, but we prefer the slightly nicer 11/1 on offer for in-form Snedeker. Ryan Palmer looks tasty at 40s for an each-way spot off the back of two top-six finishes. Visit 888sport.com for more prices.
Thursday: Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Friday: Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Saturday: Sky Sports 3 from 6pm
Sunday: Sky Sports 3 from 6pm
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