LOS ANGELES Phil Mickelson held on long enough for Jeff Quinney to self-destruct on the back nine Sunday at Riviera, closing with a 1-under 70 to win the Northern Trust Open and complete an impressive collection of trophies in California and Arizona.
A year ago, Lefty was poised to win in L.A. until he bogeyed the 18th hole and lost in a playoff against Charles Howell III. This time, he was steady down the stretch as Quinney faltered, and won by two shots for his 33rd career victory, 16 of those on the West Coast.
"It's pretty cool," Mickelson said. "I've wanted to win this tournament for a long time."
Quinney's time will have to wait.
He holed four straight putts outside 10 feet around the turn and briefly held the lead. But his streak of 214 holes without a three-putt ended on the 13th to fall out of the lead, and Quinney soon fell apart.
"I just put a little too much pressure on the putter on the back nine," said Quinney, who made a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that only changed the final score. He closed with a 71.
British Open champion Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald each shot 68 and tied for third, although this was a two-man race from the start, and a one-man celebration over the final two holes.
Mickelson finished at 12-under 272 and earned $1,116,000.
Hoch gets back-to-back wins
At Naples, Fla., Scott Hoch made it back-to-back wins on the Champions Tour. Hoch made an 8-foot birdie putt on the last hole of regulation to get in a four-way playoff, then made another 8-footer on the first playoff hole to win The ACE Group Classic. Tom Jenkins, Tom Kite and Brad Bryant had already made their pars before Hoch. "I just said, 'Look, let's end it here. I don't want to play anymore, anything else can happen,"' Hoch said. "Nick Price had the same putt, but longer (in regulation). He hit a good putt, but it dove on him." Hoch's dived right in the hole to win $240,000 of the $1.6 million purse to go with the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, where Hoch caught fire on the back nine to win.
Teen qualifier upsets Blake
At Delray Beach, Fla., qualifier Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man to win an ATP title in 16 years by upsetting top-seeded James Blake 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the International Tennis Championships final on Sunday. "I still can't believe it that I beat James Blake," the 18-year-old Nishikori told the crowd, which included a dozen Japanese fans chanting "Nippon! Nippon!" high up in the stands. "I've only seen him on TV. This is my best tournament ever." With the win, the 244th-ranked Nishikori is expected to move to a No. 122 ranking. He is the youngest player to win an ATP title since Lleyton Hewitt won Adelaide as a 16-year-old in 1998. Blake, who appeared to emotionally fade at times in the match, was quick to credit Nishikori. "Congratulations to Kei on winning his first ATP title," Blake said. "I'm sure it will be one of many. He's been impressive all week."
Pavlik wants more belts
Kelly Pavlik proved his superiority and fattened his bank account with a second victory Saturday in Las Vegas over Jermain Taylor. Now this frugal people's champion is finally ready to go shopping for two really ugly belts.
Moments after winning a unanimous decision in his rematch with Taylor on Saturday night, Pavlik reiterated his plan to add the WBA and IBF middleweight titles to the WBC and WBO championships he took from Taylor last year. He'll get started on that quest after a June tune-up fight that shouldn't be nearly as tough as the stops on his difficult road to Taylor.
"My No. 1 goal since I won the middleweight title has been to unify the belts," Pavlik said. "That's been a dream of mine since I started fighting, and that's what I'd love to do now. It's something special to be the champion that everybody recognizes, and that's a life goal of mine."
Pavlik hopes to follow in the big footsteps of Bernard Hopkins, who held all four major middleweight belts until Taylor beat him by split decision in July 2005. Hopkins held at least three belts for nearly four years while making 20 total title defenses a remarkable achievement in the fractious boxing world.