Rookie Adam Long outlasts Phil Mickelson, Adam Hadwin for Desert Classic crown

Jan 20, 2019; La Quinta, CA, USA; Adam Long (left) acknowledges the crowd after a putt on the 17th green as Adam Hadwin walks by during the final round of the Desert Classic golf tournament at PGA West - Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Adam Long outlasts Phil Mickelson, Adam Hadwin for Desert Classic crown

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Rookie Adam Long outlasts Phil Mickelson, Adam Hadwin for Desert Classic crown

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Adam Hadwin started clapping with a blank stare on his face. Phil Mickelson took a quick look and said what everyone was thinking.

“Wow.”

Maybe most stunned of all was Adam Long, the 31-year-old rookie who came out of nowhere to top Hadwin and Mickelson and win the Desert Classic with an unbelievable birdie on the last hole.

“I don’t really know what just happened, but I’m thrilled,” Long said.

All three players were tied through 17 and Long had the toughest approach of all into the 18th green, his ball on the side of a mound in the right rough and about a foot below his feet. Long put a perfect swing on it and had 13 feet left for birdie and the victory.

The Duke grad drained the putt and earned his first professional win in shocking fashion.

“It was the Phil and Adam Hadwin show for most of the way,” Long said. “Everyone was chanting for Phil and there’s a lot of Canadians here (supporting Hadwin). I was just kind of in the background doing my thing and giving myself birdie looks.”

Long shot 7-under 65 in the final round at the Stadium Course in La Quinta, Calif., capping a 26-under 262 for the week. It was just the sixth career PGA Tour start for Long, who bounced around multiple circuits and finally earned his card on the Web.com Tour last season.

Long has looked up to Mickelson his entire life and called it a “thrill” to tee it up with him. Said he couldn’t believe some of the tee shots he hit. But he was the one who came through in the clutch, while Mickelson and Hadwin both made pars to finish T-2.

“I had a terrible putting day, one of the worst I can recall in a while,” said Mickelson, who shot 3-under 69 having entered the final round with a two-shot lead. “It’s a weird game how sometimes if you haven’t played for a while it can just click and come right back.”

Things are suddenly looking up for Mickelson following his woeful Ryder Cup performance.

Mickelson said he felt rusty to start the week, his first action since beating Tiger Woods at “The Match” in Las Vegas. Over the next four rounds he proved he’s still perfectly capable of contending consistently at age 48.

Mickelson decided to skip this week’s Farmers Insurance Open, ending a streak of 28 consecutive starts at Torrey Pines. He’ll return to action in Phoenix then head to Pebble Beach, where he’s later hoping to pull off the career Grand Slam at the U.S. Open in June. It’s a dream that doesn’t seem quite as far-fetched as it did last week.

Hadwin, meanwhile, remains a tough-luck staple in the desert. He was T-3 a year ago, solo second in 2017 and T-6 in 2016. Thanks to Long’s closing birdie, he remains winless since his first Tour victory at the 2017 Valspar Championship.

Forgive Hadwin if he didn’t see this coming. No one could have, with Long entering the week off three consecutive missed cuts and ranked No. 417 in the Official World Golf Ranking. But none of that mattered late Sunday afternoon, when Long seized a life-changing moment with one stroke of the putter.

“One of those putts that you just stand over and know you’re gonna make,” Long said. “When you have that feeling it’s a good one, and I’m in disbelief right now.” Gwk

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