- The Washington Times - Monday, May 26, 2008

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Another memorable shot and another victory for Phil Mickelson’s impressive ledger.

Not the 9-foot birdie putt on the final hole that gave him a one-stroke victory at the Crowne Plaza Invitational yesterday. Instead, it was the 140-yard wedge from heavy rough that set it up. Mickelson had to hit under one tree and over another, with the ball clipping branches while headed sky-high.

“Just lucky,” Mickelson said, with a smile. “I’m as surprised as anybody I was able to make a 3 from over there.”

Once Mickelson hit the ball — “it just came off perfectly,” he said — he couldn’t see it through the branches. So he took a couple of steps before jogging through the trees into an opening just in time to see the ball fall back to earth near the flag.

One of Mickelson’s best shots ever?

“Probably top five,” he said, pointing out he had already discussed that with his wife, Amy.

“That’s what number twos in the world do,” said Rod Pampling, who blew a two-stroke lead on the back nine. “Those guys make those kinds of shots.”

The birdie closed out a round of 2-under 68 that got Mickelson to 14-under 266, a stroke better than Pampling (68) and Tim Clark (66) for his second victory at Colonial.

It was the 34th career victory for Mickelson, who also won the Northern Trust Open in February and is the only golfer on the PGA Tour with multiple victories in each of the past five seasons.

Mickelson began the final round with a one-stroke lead. But like the day before, he fell behind before regaining the lead on his final putt of the day.

Pampling, playing with Mickelson, made the turn at 14 under. He still led by one after saving par out of a greenside bunker at the 188-yard 16th.

But on the ensuing drive at the 382-yard 17th, Pampling hit the ball way right toward a ditch. He had to take a penalty stroke after a drop — though that put his ball where it could be seen rather than buried in heavy rough at the edge of a concrete gully. He managed to get the approach shot into a bunker, then blasted to four feet, pushing both arms in the air before tapping in the bogey. That came after Mickelson had two-putted from 28 feet for par.

After Mickelson’s final drive went well left, Pampling drove down the middle of the fairway. But Pampling left his approach 38 feet away, with his second putt going in after Mickelson already had made his birdie.

“Came close again at the end,” said Pampling, who finished third at Colonial two years after a double bogey at No. 15. “I hope next time, I’ll be good to go.”

Pampling still may have done enough to get into the top 50 for a spot in the U.S. Open.