PGA Tour
Mickelson holds off Stricker at Riviera



Pacific Palisades, CA (Sports Network) - Phil Mickelson needed a pair of birdies late in Sunday's final round to rally and beat Steve Stricker at the Northern Trust Open.

Mickelson closed with a one-over 72 to finish at 15-under-par 269 and win by one stroke. He became the seventh player to win this title in back-to-back years.

"It was an exciting finish. Obviously, I didn't want it to be that close. I felt like I got off to a good start and wasn't able to keep it going," said Mickelson, who collected $1,134,000 for the win. "But to fight through a round where I didn't have my best stuff and to make some key putts coming down the stretch and key shots, it feels terrific to pull off the victory."

Stricker, who bogeyed the 18th hole, carded a four-under 67 to take second at minus-14.

Fred Couples (69) and Andres Romero (70) had their chances in the final group alongside Mickelson, but couldn't get over the hump. They shared third place with K.J. Choi (69) at 13-under-par 271 at Riviera Country Club.

Mickelson ran home a 38-foot eagle putt on the first to move five strokes clear of the field and it looked like the rout was on.

However, he missed the green at that second and walked off with a bogey. He dropped another stroke on the third after a poor tee shot.

Mickelson's lead was down to two, but he steadied himself with three straight pars from the fourth. Another missed green on the seventh led to his third bogey of the day, but he still led by two.

After four straight pars around the turn, Mickelson fell out of the lead at the 12th. He three-putted for bogey to slip to 14-under, one stroke behind Stricker.

Stricker birdied the first, then connected on back-to-back birdie chances from the fifth. He stumbled to a bogey on No. 8, but kicked in a three-footer for birdie on nine to move to 13-under.

At the par-five 11th, Stricker pitched his third within two feet and kicked that in for birdie. He made it two straight with a six-foot birdie putt on 12 to move to 15-under.

Mickelson parred 13, then found a bunker off the tee at the par-three 14th. He blasted to seven feet, but two-putted for bogey to slip two back.

Stricker parred five straight from the 13th as his best chance for birdie was at the 17th, where he missed an 11-foot birdie try.

Playing two groups ahead of Mickelson, Stricker found the rough off the tee at the 18th. His approach finished short in the right rough and he could not save par from there, dropping him to 14-under.

Mickelson stuck his tee shot on the par-three 16th within five feet and sank the putt to gain a share of the lead. He made it two in a row with a two-putt birdie on the par-five 17th.

Heading to the last with a one-stroke lead, Mickelson found the fairway off the tee, but his approach stopped over 60 feet from the hole. He rolled a putt to six feet. Mickelson calmly sank the par-saver for his 35th PGA Tour title.

"It means a lot to me to get my game back in shape and to know the direction I'm trying to go," Mickelson said. "But to be able to fight through it again when I didn't have my best stuff and to be able to hit nine-iron on 16 to make birdie and hit that driver and three-wood on 17 to make birdie...that made a big difference."

Stricker, who was playing this event for just the fourth time, posted his best finish here despite the late stumble.

"It was a good day. I got off to a good start," Stricker stated. "I made birdie at 12 and then really had a difficult time getting my driver on the fairway, all of a sudden. A couple of poor swings led to my bogey at 18. But overall, a good day. It was exciting to get into the thick of things and to feel the heat of the battle."

Rory Sabbatini climbed within one of the lead, but was done in by a double- bogey on the 16th and a bogey at the last. He closed with a one-under 70 to share sixth place with 1989 champion Mark Calcavecchia (69), Luke Donald (68) and J.B. Holmes (68) at 12-under-par 272.

Second-round leader Scott McCarron closed with an even-par 71 and ended 11- under-par 272 alongside Brendon de Jonge (67) and last week's winner Dustin Johnson (70).

02/22 19:31:58 ET