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2019 Desert Classic – Long Comes up Big in the Clutch

Article by Ron Green Jr. of Global Golf Post – Talk about one nobody saw coming.

It happened Sunday in La Quinta, California, when Adam Long, a 31-year-old making his sixth career start on the PGA Tour, birdied the 18th hole to edge past Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin and win the Desert Classic.

The look on Long’s face in the moments after his career-changing 13-footer fell showed the disbelief about what he had just done – holding off a Hall of Famer and Hadwin, who led by three on the final nine holes – to win.

It was an extraordinary finish, set up by a brilliant second shot into the par-4 18th green on the Stadium Course at PGA West guarded on the left by water. Long’s tee shot came to rest on the side of a mound, forcing him to hit a 171-yard shot with the ball well below his feet.

Tied with Mickelson and Hadwin, who both could take dead aim going into the green, Long lasered his approach shot at the flag, leaving him a putt to win after the other two failed to make birdie. Long poured his closing birdie putt into the middle of the hole, prompting Mickelson to mouth “Wow” while Hadwin applauded.

“I got a pretty good read off Phil’s putt and it was one of those putts you just know you’re going to make,” Long said. “You can’t control that but when you have that feeling, it’s a good one.”

For most of the day, it seemed Mickelson or Hadwin would win. Mickelson, who shot 60 in the first round, led by two starting the day but struggled on the greens Sunday. He three-putted the first hole for a bogey and never found the sharpness that carried him through the first three rounds.

He rallied with two late birdies to get even with Hadwin and Long but was denied his 44th  PGA Tour victory.

“I had a terrible putting day, one of the worst I can recall,” said Mickelson, who shot 69 on Sunday. “I felt awful with the putter. I just couldn’t get the ball in the hole.”

Hadwin has made a habit of contending at the Desert Classic but he still hasn’t won it. In the past four years, Hadwin has finished T6, 2, T3 and T2, and he shot a 59 during the 2017 tournament.

In the final round, Hadwin shot 67, the 11th time in the last four years that Hadwin has shot 67 or better in the Desert Classic.

Long, meanwhile, shot 65 on Sunday, making four birdies on his final seven holes including a hey chip-in birdie at the 15th hole that seemed to force him into a narrative driven by Mickelson and Hadwin.

“I just kept plugging away,” Long said. It was the Phil and Adam Hadwin show most of the way.”

Until Long earned his PGA Tour privileges in the Tour Finals last fall, his only start on the tour was a missed cut at the 2011 U.S. Open. He played mini-tours, the Mackenzie Tour in Canada, the PGA Latinoamérica and five years on the Tour – never winning on any of those circuits – before breaking through Sunday.

“In some ways, it’s been a little bit of a roller coaster but there’s been steady improvement,” Long said. “I’ve played most of the tours and I’ve been steadily progressed. It seems like it came out of nowhere but my game has been trending the right way for a couple of years now.”

“Watts” In the Bag

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X EvenFlow Black 75X

3-wood: TaylorMade M4 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X EvenFlow Black 85X

Hybrid: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Project X EvenFlow Black 100X

Irons: TaylorMade P760 (4-PW)
Shaft: Project X 6.5

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), TaylorMade Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist X5R

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Republished with permission from Global Golf Post