Phil Mickelson, of the U.S., poses with his Mexico Championship trophy at the Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City, Sunday, March 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

Phil Mickelson wins playoff in Mexico, ends long drought

Phil Mickelson ended the longest drought of his career with a playoff victory Sunday over Justin Thomas in the Mexico Championship, capping off a final round of lustrous cheers in thin air that included Thomas holing a wedge for eagle on the final hole of regulation.

Mickelson, who closed with a 5-under 66, won for the first time since the 2013 British Open at Muirfield, a stretch of 101 tournaments worldwide.

“I can’t put into words how much this means to me,” Mickelson said. “I knew it was going to be soon — I’ve been playing too well for it not to be. But you just never know until it happens.”

Thomas was coming off a playoff victory at the Honda Classic last week, and he delivered the biggest moment at Chapultepec Golf Club. Tied for the lead, his shot to the 18th from 119 yards landed in front of the pin and spun back into the hole for an eagle and a 64. 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.

Tyrrell Hatton, playing in the final group with Mickelson, was stride for stride. He capped off a 3-3-3-3 stretch on the back nine with an eagle at the 15th. But on the final hole, Hatton missed the green to the right, chipped 10 feet by and missed the par putt for a 67 to fall out of a playoff.

In the playoff, Thomas went long on the par-3 17th hole and chipped to just inside 10 feet. Mickelson’s 18-foot birdie putt for the victory swirled around the cup, more agony for a 47-year-old who has seen plenty of it since his last victory. Thomas, however, never got his par attempt on the right line.

They finished at 16-under 268.

Mickelson won his third World Golf Championships title and, just a month after being on the verge of falling out of the top 50 in the world for the first time in two decades, moves to No. 18 in the world. He has 43 victories on the PGA Tour and 46 around the world, and has four consecutive top 10s for the first time since 2005.

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LPGA TOUR

SINGAPORE (AP) — Michelle Wie made a 36-foot birdie putt from just off the 18th green to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship and capture her first title since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open.

Wie closed with a 7-under 65, and then had to wait to see if it would stand at Sentosa Golf Club.

Nelly Korda, the 54-hole leader whose older sister won last week in Thailand, had an 8-foot birdie chance on the final hole to force a playoff. She failed to make birdie over the final eight holes and closed with a 71. Danielle Kang had a longer birdie chance on the 18th and missed.

They finished one shot behind, along with Jenny Shin (65) and Brooke Henderson (67).

Wie, who started the final round five shots behind, finished at 17-under 271 and won for the fifth time in her LPGA Tour career. A year ago, the 28-year-old from Hawaii had the 54-hole lead in Singapore until fading on the last day.

“Winning is everything. I mean, there is no better feeling than when you think you sink that winning putt. It’s a high, for sure,” Wie said. “It’s this feeling that makes you practice. It’s that winning putt that makes you practice for hours and hours and hours, and even the hard times, it gets you going back. You know that good feeling is on the other side.”

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PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Steve Stricker finally hit the 18th fairway on Omni Tucson National’s Catalina Course — and has his first PGA Tour Champions victory to show for it.

Stricker came through in the Cologuard Classic a year after hitting left into the water on 18 to blow a chance for a victory in his senior debut, and a day after another 3-wood drive rolled into the water in a closing double bogey.

The 12-time PGA Tour winner birdied the par-5 15th and closed with three pars for a 4-under 69, hitting another 3-wood on the par-4 18th. He finished two strokes ahead of fellow Madison, Wisconsin, player Jerry Kelly (65), Gene Sauers (70) and Scott Dunlap (71).

The 51-year-old Stricker finished at 14-under 205 after opening with rounds of 6 and 70.

Stricker won in his eighth start on the 50-and -over tour. He has six top three-finishes, tying for second two weeks ago in Florida in the Chubb Classic. He was second in Tucson behind Tom Lehman last year, losing a two-shot lead on the final three holes.

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EUROPEAN TOUR

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — George Coetzee closed with a 4-under 67 for a two-shot victory over Sam Horsfield of England in the Tshwane Open.

It was the South African’s first victory in two years.

Coetzee had a two-shot lead going into the final round at Pretoria Country Club, and Horsfield stayed in range for most of the front nine. They were tied through 10 holes until a pivotal two-shot swing on the 11th hole, when Coetzee made birdie and Horsfield dropped a shot.

Coetzee birdied the next two holes and stretched his lead to four shots. He finished on 18-under 266.

The final round was suspended briefly because of storms. Horsfield birdied his last three shots for a 67 to secure second place.

Mikko Korhonen of Finland closed with a 68 to finish alone in third.

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OTHER TOURS

Daniel Nisbet of Australia closed with a 62 to win the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open and set the century-old tournament’s 72-hole scoring record to par. Nisbet overcame a five-shot deficit and finished at 27-under 258 at Millbrook Resort and The Hills for a two-shot victory over 54-hole leader Terry Pilkadaris. The previous record was set by Kel Nagle in 1964 at 26 under when it was played at Christchurch. … Meghan MacLaren of England closed with an even-par 71 to win the Women’s New South Wales Open and claim her first title on the Ladies European Tour. … Min Young closed with a 6-under 66 for a two-shot victory over Yoon Chae Young in the Daikin Orchid Ladies Tournament on the Japan LPGA.

Author: AP
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