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Mickelson on brink of 5th Pebble Beach victory

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Phil Mickelson put himself on the brink of a fifth victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach pro-am by turning a three-shot deficit into a three-shot lead when a wild day of weather kept him from finishing Sunday.

Mickelson was bogey-free with six birdies, and he made his big run starting with a 9-iron to a foot behind the cup on the par-4 ninth. That was start of a five-hole stretch when Mickelson made three birdies and Paul Casey had two bogeys.

About the only thing that didn’t go Mickelson’s way was the timing.

Phil Mickelson (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Phil Mickelson (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The final round started an hour late because of rain, and then it was delayed two more hours when sunshine gave way to a hail storm in a matter of minutes, covering the putting greens in a sheet of white.

Mickelson was at 18-under par through 16 holes. Casey had a 3-foot par putt on the same hole when Mickelson tried to lobby for them to finish, even in the dark.

Casey was at 15 under, tied with Scott Stallings, who closed with a 66. Along with an outside chance at forcing a playoff, finishing alone in second instead of a tie is a difference of $152,000, along with world ranking points and FedEx Cup points. Casey and FedEx executive Don Colleran had a one-shot lead in the pro-am.

Mickelson was standing on the 17th tee when he heard the horn sound to stop play, and he shook his head.

The rest of his day was far better than the weather.

Mickelson is on the verge of winning for the 44th time in his career, and matching Mark O’Meara with five victories at a tournament he first played in 1995. It also would be his first victory on American soil since the Phoenix Open six years ago. He won the British Open that summer in Scotland, and the Mexico Championship last year.

His brilliant play still shared the stage with weather that was bizarre even by Pebble standards.

Mickelson and Casey were waiting to tee off when clouds moved in quickly moved in, and rain turned into hail that pounded umbrellas, many of them held sideways to account for the wind. Greens quickly were covered by the tiny white pellets, and workers went from using squeegees for excess water to power blowers to remove the hail.

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