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Devil Ball Golf

Five things we learned from the Northern Trust Open

Jonathan Wall
Devil Ball Golf

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Bill Haas / Getty Images

Let's be honest, we're all incredibly busy. Nobody has time to sit down and watch four rounds of golf each week -- unless, of course, you watch TV for a living, and if that's the case, please email us your number. So in an effort to condense the tournament coverage for you into a few quick hits, here are five things we learned from the Northern Trust Open.

Phil Mickelson is still Phil Mickelson One week after we wondered aloud if this was the start of a special year for Phil, we got our answer in the form of a final round roller coaster ride at the Northern Trust Open that had a little bit of everything. The 25-footer on the 72nd hole proved Mickelson has the mojo going with the putter, but the erratic driver and missed birdie opportunity on the 16th hole on Sunday made you realize that even though this very well could turn into a career-defining season for Lefty, he's still ... well, he's still "Phil the Thrill". That persona, while great for golf, is going to cost him tournaments from time to time.

The playoff drama continues A year after the tour set a record with 18 playoffs in 2011, the extra-hole drama continued at Riviera with one of the best playoffs we've seen in some time. Why was it so good, you ask? Because the star power was on display at a high-profile event. No offense to a lot of the playoff that went on last season, but none of them had the Rookie of the Year, FexCup Cup (and Tour Championship) winner, and a future Hall of Famer in a three-man playoff. Most golf fans care about the drama on the course, but what makes these extra-hole affairs special is when you have some recognizable names. Phil, Keegan and Bill all produced, and while only one guy could come out on top, CBS got one heck of a playoff finish thanks to the big guns.

Sergio Garcia is making a comeback — Remember when a lot of us wrote Sergio off and said he'd never win a major in his career? Well, we may want to decide how we want our crow prepared. He still seems to have some kinks to figure out, but the Spaniard has certainly found his floundering golf game over the last four months. Following two wins late in 2011 on the European Tour, Garcia opened this year with two top-15 finishes in Europe, and then followed up the good form with a T-4 at Riviera. The week included a 7-under 64 on Sunday -- including a ridiculous 30 on the back nine -- highlighted by two eagles and 24 putts, proving once again that when he gets it going, Garcia is still one of the best in the game.

Bill Haas' FedEx Cup victory wasn't a fluke Winning $10 million and hitting what many considered to be the best shot of 2011 doesn't make you an under-the-radar guy, but honestly, I'd be willing to bet very few had Bill Haas winning this week. The guy won more than $4 million last season (not including the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus) and he still didn't get so much as a nod from most golf analyst when the season began. That has to change. While Haas isn't a sexy pick, his victory on Sunday at the Northern Trust Open proves he has staying power. His putting and short game were on this week -- if you don't believe me, just look at his up-and-down on the 72nd hole to remain at 7-under -- making him a must-pick for the majors this year. He also took down an incredibly impressive playoff field which, you know, isn't too shabby. This guy isn't going anywhere but up.

Riviera was an absolute beast You can thank a rare northeast wind for making things interesting, but once again, Riviera proved that when the wind is up -- and it was gusting like crazy early in the week -- it's the toughest tournament stop on the PGA Tour. You have to go all the way back to 1996 to find a winning score of 7-under or higher at Riviera, and the course also had a cumulative scoring average of (72.622), which is the highest on tour this season ... and the only only event to post an over-par scoring average. Those are U.S. Open scores (and conditions), folks.

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