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.
It almost was too good to be true. Thomas, who said Thursday he had never felt worse over the ball, had a 62-64 weekend and suddenly had a two-shot lead.
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.
The sudden-death playoff — the sixth in eight PGA Tour events this year — didn't last long.
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.
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. He finished with consecutive bogeys for a 74, six shots behind in a three-way tie for ninth. 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. Sharma first flies home for the Hero Indian Open next week.
Hatton tied for third with Rafa Cabrera Bello, who holed a bunker shot for eagle on the opening hole and was among six players who had at least a share of the lead.
Mickelson was the first player who appeared to seize control with a birdie on No. 10 to take the lead, and facing a reachable par 5 and a drivable par 4.
Instead, Lefty made it as entertaining as ever.
Going for the green in light rough with the ball below his feet, he hooked it deep into the bushes right of the green, and played his next one when he could barely see the golf ball. That stayed in the trees, and his fourth shot narrowly missed another tree before settling 10 feet away. He made bogey, and just like that, it was a sprint to the finish 7,800 feet above sea level.
Brian Harman and Kiradech Aphibarnrat both had chances until dropping shots at the wrong time.
Thomas made a bogey on the 17th hole twice on Sunday. He missed a 5-foot par putt in regulation that dropped him out of the lead, only to respond with the perfect shot at the right time. It just wasn't good enough.
Mickelson, now with 43 victories on the PGA Tour and 46 around the world, made good on his pledge earlier this year that more victories were in store for him. He has four consecutive top 10s for the first time since 2005.
That also was the last time he had won in a playoff.
It all seems so long ago — playoffs, trophies, consistent play. Now he's just more than a month away from the Masters, and feeling invigorated.
And feeling like a winner.
Michelle Wie wins LPGA Singapore for first victory since 2014
Michelle Wie holed a 36-foot putt from off the green on the final hole to win the Women's World Championship by one stroke on Sunday and capture her first LPGA tournament since the 2014 U.S. Women's Open.
With four players in contention to win on the last hole, Wie managed to separate herself from the pack when she drained her lengthy birdie putt on the 72nd hole at the Sentosa Golf Club for a final round of 7-under 65 to finish at 17-under 271.
The 28-year-old Wie, who led the tournament after three rounds a year ago before fading on the last day, leaped into the air and clenched her fist in celebration as the ball disappeared into the bottom of the cup.
But she still faced an anxious wait before being declared the champion.
“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.
“You go out there, and it's this feeling that gets you going. 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.”
Third-round leader Nelly Korda parred her last 8 holes in a row. The 19-year-old, who only joined the LPGA Tour last year, hit a superb approach into the 18th to set up a birdie opportunity that would have forced a playoff but missed her 8-foot putt and settled for a final-round 71.
Danielle Kang, last year's Singapore winner, parred her last 14 holes and was unable to drain a longer birdie putt on the last to miss out on a playoff as she closed with a 70. Korda and Kang finished in a four-way tie for second at 16-under, alongside Jenny Shin (65) and Brooke Henderson (67).
Steve Stricker wins in Tucson for first Champions title
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 Sunday 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.
Bob Estes (69), Olin Browne (69) and Rocco Mediate (72) tied for fifth at 10 under.