Mickelson a huge Riviera fan after long learning curve

Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:06pm EST
 
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

PACIFIC PALISADES, California (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson ranks Riviera Country Club as one of his favorite venues on the PGA Tour, even though it took him almost a decade to discover the art of playing the par-71 layout.

Known as a classic shot-maker's course, Riviera continually vexed Mickelson as he missed four cuts in eight PGA Tour appearances here between 1988 and 2001.

He then skipped the event until 2007 when he made a last-minute decision to compete and ended up losing to fellow American Charles Howell III in a playoff for the title.

Mickelson has since won the tournament twice and was edged out in a three-way playoff at Riviera last year when compatriot Bill Haas emerged triumphant.

"I really enjoy Riviera golf course," world number 10 Mickelson told reporters on Wednesday while preparing for this week's Northern Trust Open at the venue. "It's one of the better ones we have on tour.

"It's funny how it's become that way and it's become one of my favorite tournaments on tour, given that for a number of years I didn't play here.

"And when I came back in 2007, I lost in a playoff to Charles Howell and then won the following two years, I quickly fell in love with the place and started to appreciate it for its nuances."

INITIAL STRUGGLES   Continued...

 
U.S. golfer Phil Mickelson hits off the 11th tee of the north course at Torrey Pines during first round play at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, California January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake