Mickelson relieved after ending drought


Phil Mickelson acknowledges the crowd as he reaches the 18th green during the final round of the WGC - Mexico Championship golf tournament at Club de Golf Chapultepec.

He was posing with the trophy.

Phil Mickelson had gone four-plus years without a win on the PGA Tour but Lefty ended that drought at the WGC-Mexico Championship, defeating Justin Thomas on the first hole of a playoff with a two-putt par.

"I know how great these young players are and I appreciate their skill - but I also know the level I'm able to play and get there".

And with the Masters coming up in a month, the five-times major victor believes he can be a factor again after missing the cut in 2016 and tying for 22nd past year.

"To finally break through and to have this validation means a lot to me". "I'm starting play some of my best golf".

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But a birdie at the par-five 15th and a birdie at 16 - where he rolled in a 19-foot putt - kept his chances alive.

The Spaniard, Hatton and Mickelson all had spells in front but Thomas, who was 11 shots behind halfway leader Sharma on Friday night before carding a blistering 62 on Saturday, made six birdies in his first 15 holes to edge ahead. Thomas came in on one heck of a run, winning the 2017 PGA Player of the Year award and last week's Honda Classic.

His gap wedge was too long, his chip too weak.

Mickelson, who turns 48 in June, responded with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 15th and a 20-foot birdie putt on the 16th to tie Thomas.

"I'm definitely disappointed", he said. Obviously the play-off didn't go how I wanted but I'm happy for him and proud of him. "He's playing some great golf".

"Oh, I will, I'll get there", he told reporters after his par was enough to see off Thomas who, remember, was coming off the back of a victory at last week's Honda Classic and is nearly half Mickelson's age.

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This was far more than a duel between Mickelson and Thomas, who is 23 years younger. Mickelson favored the high toe area, which provides more surface area for shots played with an extremely open face (Mickelson favors lob shots with frequency).

The US PGA champion, who won the Honda Classic in a play-off eight days earlier, then holed his approach to the 72nd hole for an eagle two to set a clubhouse target of 16 under par which looked hard to catch.

"I can't believe that I'm not at least in the playoff", Hatton said, still seething over a par putt on the 18th that started bouncing right after he hit it.

Mickelson parred the first extra hole to become, at the age of 47, the oldest victor of a World Golf Championship event and secure the 43rd title of his career.

Shubhankar Sharma, the 21-year-old from India who started with a two-shot lead, didn't make his first birdie until the 12th hole.

But he closed with a three-over 74 that included five bogeys and just two birdies and left him tied for ninth, six shots adrift. That will leave him on the bubble at No. 66 in the world for making it back to the next World Golf Championship, the Dell Match Play, in three weeks in Texas.

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