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Things didn't go any better last week when Mickelson returned to Scottsdale, where he reigns supreme due to his amazing play for Arizona State two decades ago. A pair of three-under 68s put him on the edge of contention, but his ball striking went off-line in the third round as he sprayed shots throughout the bag while bogeying three of the first six holes and finishing with a 72. Mickelson closed with a 67.
Phoenix was Phil's fourth start in 2010, and he had won his fourth tournament of the season for the past three years. Not this time. His West Coast finishes: 19th (Farmers Insurance), 45th (Northern Trust), tie for eighth (Pebble Beach) and 24th last week. "I guess I'm a bit of a slow starter," Mickelson said. In his defense, he skipped the Match Play for a rescheduled family vacation and this week was heading to Houston for treatment of wife Amy's breast cancer.
• The name has changed but the party rages on.
Huge crowds and after-hours entertainment make the Phoenix Open unique on Tour and a must-see event on the calendar. Defending champion Kenny Perry reported that when he checked into his hotel last year, the desk clerk mentioned that she was a big fan. "Oh, yes, I love the tournament," she told Perry. "I go every night!"
The par-3 16th hole is surrounded by bleachers and 20,000 fans, who cheer as if they're at a football game. They'll chant, "Tip your cap!" until a player or even a sign-board carrier complies, then applaud. A group of fans near the tee serenades players with college fight songs, chants high school team nicknames—Fowler's: "Night-hawks! Night-hawks!"—and other assorted trivia.
When Scott Piercy arrived at the 16th tee during the third round, the crazies greeted him with, "Jen-na Ja-me-son! Jen-na Ja-me-son!" Piercy later explained that the former porn star attended his high school. "But it's not like she was an old girlfriend," he added, laughing.
Saturday's total attendence was estimated at 121,000, about 40,000 fewer than last year. The drop was blamed on a threatening but erroneous weather forecast that prompted Tour officials to move up third-round tee times by an hour. The afternoon turned out to be fine—breezy, high clouds, but no rain until midnight.
• Weathermen are frequently wrong.
Actually, we knew that already.
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