Former Cal golf star Charlie Wi had the table set for his first PGA TOUR victory Sunday in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Wi went into the final round with a three-shot lead over Ken Duke and a four-shot lead over Tiger Woods. But Wi could not shake off a shaky start, eventually grinding his way to an even-par round of 72 and a solo second place finish behind Phil Mickelson. Mickelson, playing with Woods in the second-to-last group, fired a sizzling 8-under par 64 to win at Pebble Beach for the fourth time in his illustrious professional golf career.
In the end, it was Wi's struggles on the front nine that doomed his tournament finish. Wi inexplicably three-putted the first hole on the way to a double bogey and then bogeyed the par-3 5th and par-5 6th holes to drop four shots in his first six holes. Wi eventually settled down and after a birdie at the par-3 12th, he was back in second place and within one shot of Mickelson. But Mickelson posted back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes to go up by three over Wi. Wi tried to keep pace with a fabulous effort from the greenside rough at the 13th, but his chip hit the flagstick and bounded away. And when Wi bogeyed the 15th hole, the tournament was out of reach.
To his credit, Wi finished strong, making three straight birdies to end his round at even par and claim second place all to himself. For that finish, Wi takes home a cool $691,200. Not a bad turnaround for Wi, who had missed the cut in two of his first three PGA TOUR events to start the season. And his day was certainly more successful than that of Woods, the ex-Stanford golfer: El Tigre was within striking distance, but played himself out of contention with three straight bogeys on the front nine, stumbling to a round of 75 (+3) and finishing in a tie for 15th.
Wi, who played golf at Cal in the early 1990s and turned pro in 1995, has won nine times professionally around the world (including, most notably, once on the Asian Tour and once on the European Tour), but has yet to win on the PGA TOUR. Sunday's finish marked the fifth time that Wi has finished second in a PGA TOUR event and the second time that Wi lost after holding the 54-hole lead. Wi missed a chance to become only the sixth golfer to win both the California Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach (which he accomplished in 1990) and the PGA TOUR's Pebble Beach event.
In other Cal-related news from Pebble Beach, former Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers played in the pro-am with PGA TOUR professional D.J. Trahan. Unfortunately, their 12-under par score for the first three rounds did not make the cut for Sunday's final round.