Mickelson does it his way
Breaks nearly five-year winless streak with playoff win over Thomas, but not without some anxious moments.
March 04, 2018
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Phil Mickelson wins Mexico Championship
MEXICO CITY – Could no one or nothing stop Justin Thomas?
When the FedExCup leader holed his 119-yard approach shot for eagle at the 18th hole, he looked destined to win for the third time this season and the second consecutive week. But Phil Mickelson, the Hall of Famer who hadn’t won in nearly five years, responded in vintage Mickelson style. He made clutch birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to catch Thomas at 16-under, then won the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship with a par on the first hole of a playoff.
“I don’t feel that age,” Mickelson said when asked about being the oldest player at Club de Golf Chapultepec, at age 47. “I mean, I like it. It’s cool, because not many people at this age are able to play at that level, but I don’t feel that age. My body feels great. My game’s—I’m starting to play some of my best golf. I’m actually hitting some shots better than I ever have in my career.”
[For more on Mickelson’s victory, click here.]
With his fourth straight top-six finish, Mickelson moved from 17th to third in the FedExCup.
Thomas, 24, was almost equally impressive. Coming off his second win of the season at The Honda Classic, he went into the weekend at Chapultepec a whopping 11 shots off the lead and seemingly without any hope. Then he shot a course-record 62 in the third round before chasing it with a tidy 64 in the fourth. Since 2010 on the PGA TOUR, the only player to win from 11 back through 36 holes was Aaron Baddeley at the 2016 Barbasol Championship.
The numbers were impressive: Thomas made 14 birdies, two eagles and two bogeys on the weekend, holing nearly 200 feet worth of putts. His only regret: the tee shot at 17, a gap wedge that flew too far and left him with a delicate chip shot. He left it well short, and after Mickelson’s birdie try curled around the lip but refused to fall, Thomas missed his par try to extend the playoff.
“I'm definitely disappointed,” he said. “I wish Phil's putt just would have gone in so I would have felt better about myself. But I was a little pumped up, and the gap wedge went a lot farther than I thought it was going to.
“But man, there's nothing for me to hang my head about,” he added. “To even have a chance to win this golf tournament after where I was through 18, through 36 holes, I'm very proud of myself. I think it's the most maturity and kind of poise I've shown in a tournament I've ever played.”
Justin Thomas' eagle on No. 18 is the Shot of the Day
TYRRELL HATTON – Reached 16-under with an eagle at the par-5 15th hole, but came up short with his approach on 18 and missed a 10-foot par putt to finish a shot out of the playoff. His T3 finish is his best on TOUR in 26 starts; his previous best was a T4 at The Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard in 2017.
KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT – Thai superstar fired a final-round 65 to match his low round on TOUR, and his T5 matched the best finish by a Thai in a WGC event. (Thongchai Jaidee, T5, 2010 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.) Aphibarnrat has 150 non-member FedExCup points and can seek Special Temporary Membership on TOUR if he matches the points earned by No. 150 in last season’s FedExCup standings (269 by Rick Lamb).
RAFA CABRERA BELLO – He was seeking his first TOUR victory in his 57th career start, and made a strong run with an eagle at the first and three birdies in his last six holes. Signed for a final-round 67, and his T3 was his best WGC finish since he beat Rory McIlroy 3 and 2 in the consolation match at the 2016 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
BRIAN HARMAN – Continued an incredibly consistent season with a T5 representing his sixth top-10. Two-time TOUR winner was making his WGC-Mexico debut.
DUSTIN JOHNSON – Defending champ shot 69 and had four rounds in the 60s, but finished four out of the playoff in a tie for seventh.
SHUBHANKAR SHARMA – Became the darling of Chapultepec while taking a two-shot lead into the final round, but nerves showed up on the greens as he shot 3-over 74 to finish T9. He made four bogeys on his last six holes, but his world ranking will move from 75th to 66th, ever closer to qualifying for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play (top 64) and the Masters (top 50).
Tyrrell Hatton's approach leads to eagle putt at Mexico Championship
QUOTABLESIf you would have asked me four months ago that I would be playing with Phil at a WGC on the last day, I would have just laughed.I know what a great player Mr. Sharma is. I probably shouldn’t say that. He’s 26 years younger than me.Every World Golf Championship delivers. The best players in the world come and play them, and it’s pretty normal that at the end of the week the best players in the world are at the top.
Low round: 7-under 64 by playoff runner-up Justin Thomas.
Longest drive: 393 yds (Bubba Watson/No. 10)
Longest putt: 45’ 11” (Brian Harman/No. 9, birdie)
Toughest hole: Par-4 8th (4.277)
Easiest hole: Par-5 15th (4.414)