PGA Tour rookie Adam Long carded a final-round 65 to win his maiden title at the Desert Classic by one shot over Adam Hadwin and Phil Mickelson
Adam Long was suprised to find himself in the final group with over-night leader Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin on Sunday, but he had no problem performing under the pressure.
He was an unlikely winner, but came from behind to birdie the final hole and snatch his maiden title in dramatic fashion – something he could barely believe.
“I’m in pretty disbelief right now, I don’t really know what happened.”
While both Hadwin and Mickelson had spells at the top of the leaderboard, Long had opened up with two birdies and was happy to be in the background while putting together a consistent, bogey-free round.
“I just kept plugging away and it was kind of the Phil and Adam Hadwin show for most of the way,” Long said. “Everyone was chanting Phil’s name most of the way and there are a lot of Canadians down here. I was just in the background.”
After a chip-in on the 12th Long was still three behind, but Hadwin dropped a shot on 13 and Long found consecutive birdies on the 14th and 15th to draw level. Mickelson responded with back-to-back birdies of his own from the 15th, and the trio would then head to the 18th tee tied at the top on 25-under-par.
Not that Long had any idea of where he stood. He was such an unexpected winner that he wasn’t even sure himself if he was in the lead heading to the 18th hole.
At the start of the day he’d been hoping for a top-10 finish – which would guarantee a spot in next week’s tournament – but despite playing well, he had been actively avoiding the scoreboards.
“Even after I hit my second shot into 18 I asked Matt, I was like, we’re all tied, right,” Long said afterwards. “Like I wasn’t a hundred percent sure. But I didn’t care, I had nothing to lose. I was just out there having a blast and didn’t want it to end.”
His approach to just under 14 feet gave the rookie the best chance of a birdie, with Mickelson 40 feet away and Hadwin in the greenside bunker. Both Hadwin and Mickelson both got their third shots to within a couple of feet, but it was Long who would roll in the birdie for victory.
“Honestly I got a pretty good read off Phil’s putt.
“I knew it was for the win, once Phil’s putt didn’t go in, which it looked like it was, he had a lot of those today. But I told myself not to like think about that it was for the win and it’s just a putt up the hill to the left.
“I was just trying to — I putted really well today and made a lot of good putts and I was like, I don’t know why I should miss this. And it just felt like one I was going to make. I was just trying to concentrate on a few mechanical things that I think about, but it was like, other than that just give it a good run and don’t leave it short.”
It’s a win that will change Long’s life.
Until the Desert Classic the 31-year-old was ranked 205th in the FedEx Cup standings, had four missed cuts and a best of T63 in his first five PGA Tour starts, and hadn’t put together a win since claiming the Woodcreek Classic on the now-defunct Hooters Tour.
For that win, Long estimates that the winner’s check was $25,000. On Sunday, he pocketed a cool $1,062,000.
He also now moves from 417th to 133rd in the world rankings, and from 205th to 12th in the FedEx Cup.
Talor Gooch posted a round-of-the-day 64 to finish in 4th, with Dominic Bozzelli behind him on 22-under-par. Defending champion Jon Rahm ended up 21-under in solo sixth, while World No.1 Justin Rose was tied 34th in his first outing since signing a new equipment deal with Honma.
WITB: What clubs did Adam Long use to win the Desert Classic?
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X EvenFlow Black 75 6.0-flex
Fairway Wood: TaylorMade M4 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X EvenFlow Black 85 6.0-flex
Hybrid: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Project X EvenFlow Black 100 6.0-flex
Irons: TayorMade P-760 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52 and 56 degrees), TaylorMade Hi-Toe (60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue
Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura X5R
Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1