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Adam Long is the best in the Desert





Adam Longmade a 14-foot birdie on the final hole on Sunday to win the Desert Classic for his first PGA Tour title.

Making his sixth career start on the tour, Long closed with a 7-under 65 on the Stadium Course at PGA West in LaQuinta, Calif., to beat playing partners Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin by a stroke.

‘‘I got a pretty good read off Phil’s putt,’’ Long said. ‘‘It was one of those putts that you just stand over, you just know you’re going to make. And you can’t control that, but when you have that feeling it’s a good one. I’m in pretty disbelief right now. I don’t really know what happened.’’

Mickelson, the leader after each of the first three rounds, fought putting problems in a 69. His 40-foot birdie try on 18 curled left at the end.

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‘‘I had a terrible putting day — one of the worst I can recall in a while,’’ Mickelson said. ‘‘Started right on the first hole with a little 4-footer uphill and three-putting that green. And I missed a bunch of short ones on the front and some birdie opportunities, but it felt awful with the putter. I hit a lot of good shots today, but just couldn’t get the ball to go in the hole.’’

Long set up with the winning putt with a 6-iron shot from 175 yards with the ball below his feet in dormant grass on a mound to the right of the fairway. The 31-year-old former Duke player earned his PGA Tour card with a 13th-place finish last year on the Web.com Tour’s regular-season money list.

‘‘In some ways it’s been a little bit of a roller-coaster, but it’s been a steady improvement throughout my career,’’ Long said. ‘‘ I’ve played in pretty much most tours around the world that there are and just kind of steadily progressed. It kind of can seem like it came out of nowhere, but my game’s been trending in the right direction for really the last two years now.’’

Hadwin shot 67, losing a three-stroke lead on the back nine.

‘‘It’s golf,’’ Hadwin said. ‘‘I made a bunch of putts all week and then honestly I was kind of battling it a little bit swing-wise, didn’t quite have it like I did the first three days. … It just kind of flat-lined on me there in the last few.’’

The Canadian had his fourth straight top-six finish in the event. He was second in 2017 after a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club and tied for third last year.

Long finished at 26-under 262, chipping in twice on the back nine to remain in contention.

‘‘Those chip-ins were huge and some putts on the front nine as well to just kind of hang in there,’’ Long said,

He opened with a 63 on PGA West’s Nicklaus Tournament Course, shot 71 on Friday at the Stadium layout and had another 63 on Saturday at La Quinta to get into the final group with Mickelson and Hadwin.

‘‘It was a huge thrill to play with Phil,’’ Long said. ‘‘I looked up to him my whole life and big fan of his and he couldn’t have been greater to me out there and he was awesome to play with, a lot of fun.’’

The 48-year-old Mickelson was making his first tour start since early October and first competitive appearance since beating Tiger Woods in Las Vegas in November in a made-for-TV event.

Mickelson entered the day two strokes ahead of Hadwin and three ahead of Long. The tournament winner in 2002 and 2004, Lefty matched his career-low score with an opening 60 at La Quinta.

‘‘It’s a weird game how sometimes if you haven’t played for a while it just can click and come right back,’’ Mickelson said. ‘‘But usually you need a little bit of a foundation there coming down the stretch. When you get to feel the pressure you need to have that foundation of practice and seeing the shots that you want to hit, seeing the ball go in on the greens and so forth and I didn’t really have that today.’’

Talor Gooch was fourth at 24 under after a 64, Dominic Bozzelli followed at 22 under after a 66, and Jon Rahm, the 2018 winner, shot 67 to get to 21 under.

Top-ranked Justin Rose closed with a 70 to tie for 34th at 14 under. He’s the first No. 1 player to play the tournament since the world ranking began in 1986.

LPGA — Eun-Hee Ji of South Korea left the mistakes to everyone else in the LPGA Tour season opener.

Ji managed a strong wind and temperatures in the 50s by making three birdies on the back nine to pull away and close with a 1-under 70, giving her a two-shot victory in the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Ji got her mistakes out of the way early, opening with two bogeys to fall behind Lydia Ko. The 32-year-old South Korean took the lead for good with a birdie on the 10th hole at Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons, and she stayed in front the rest of the way.

‘‘It was a little bit chilly for me today. My body was a little bit tight on first tee, so I just pulled a little bit, and I made a bogey,’’ she said. ‘‘I made a bogey again second hole. I was like, ‘OK, wait a minute. I need to play this.’ But I have like 16 more holes, and I just trust my swing after that.’’

Ko was one shot behind when she pulled her tee shot on the par-5 13th and never found it, and then compounded the error with a three-putt for a double bogey. Ko made double bogey on the closing hole for a 42 on the back nine and a 77.

Ji finished at 14-under 270 to win by two over Mirim Lee, who made only one bogey in her round of 68. Nelly Korda (71) finished third.

‘‘I just enjoyed my game with my celebrity partners,’’ Ji said. ‘‘It makes it more fun and I relaxed more. So I didn’t get nervous.’’

The LPGA opener was limited to winners over the last two seasons. It also included a celebrity field of athletes and entertainers who competed for a $500,000 purse using the modified Stableford scoring system.

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz had 33 points in the final round for a three-point victory over former pitcher Mark Mulder. Smoltz was busy doing math with the Stableford system, trying to hold on for the victory.

‘‘I played really defensively knowing I could get two points for par,’’ Smoltz said. ‘‘I never thought the bogey I made at 17 would be the difference.’’

Stacy Lewis, in her first competition as a mother, shot 70 and tied for sixth.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the No. 1 player in women’s golf who captured every major award last year, went into the weekend two shots out of the lead and closed with a pair of 75s to tie for 18th. Her sister, Moriya Jutanugarn, managed a bogey-free round for a 69 to tie for fourth with Shanshan Feng (70).

Ko says her problems on the 13th started with thinking she had to hammer her tee shot.

No one could find it in the marsh area left of the fairway, though Ko was at least consoled to see ‘‘like a million balls in there, so it makes me feel better that I wasn’t the only one that hit there.’’

She hit another tee shot and easily carried the bunker, and then hit a stock 3-wood onto the green.

‘‘I was like, ‘Well, that was stupid.’ Because I could have just hit a normal driver, and I probably wouldn’t have duck-hooked it and it would still be able to be in play,’’ Ko said. ‘‘I guess there’s moments I thought it was necessary, but then it wasn’t. But, hey, you’re always going to have some of these failures along the way.’’

The LPGA is now off for two weeks before resuming in Australia for the Vic Open. The tour returns to the United States on March 21-24 for the Founders Cup in Arizona.

Singapore Open — Jazz Janewattananond shot a final-round 65 to win the Singapore Open and qualify for this year’s British Open.

The Thai player carded seven birdies over the Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club to finish at 18-under 266, two strokes ahead of Yoshinori Fujimoto (68) and Paul Casey (65), who had already secured his place at Royal Portrush.

Fujimoto also qualified and will make his second appearance in golf’s original championship following his debut at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012.

Doyeob Mun (72) and Prom Meesawat (68) were tied for fifth and also clinched qualifying places for the July 14-21 tournament.

Defending champion Sergio Garcia shot a 68 to finish tied for seventh with Gunn Charoenkui.

The next event in the British Open qualifying series will be the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida, from March 7-10.




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