Phil Mickelson, Michelle Wie end long victory droughts

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Phil Mickelson greets fans after winning the Mexico Championship in a playoff.

Associated press 

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 that included Thomas holing a wedge for eagle on the final hole of regulation.

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


‘‘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.’’

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Thomas was coming off a playoff victory at the Honda Classic last week, and he delivered the biggest moment at Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City. 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, at at 16-under 268, 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.

Thomas, however, never got his par attempt on the right line.

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 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.

Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Michelle Wie celebrates her birdie on the 18th green during the final round of the Women's World Championship in Singapore.

LPGA — 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 in Singapore, capturing her first LPGA tournament since the 2014 US 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 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, leaped into the air and clenched her fist in celebration as the ball disappeared into the bottom of the cup.

‘‘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.

Third-round leader Nelly Korda parred her last eight holes in a row. The 19-year-old, who only joined the 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.

‘‘I had a bunch of putts that were really close and a lot of them lipped and burned edges. It definitely hurts, but that’s golf,’’ Korda said.

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).

‘‘I couldn’t capitalize on those holes, which was kind of disappointing,’’ Kang said. ‘‘But other than that, struck the ball well and I hung in there. So [Wie] dropped the bomb on the last. I heard it from a hole back.’’

Shin held the outright lead when she teed off at the last after reeling off eight birdies between the sixth and 16th holes, but she dropped back to 16 under when she made her only bogey of the day on the final hole.

‘‘The nerves got me, maybe,’’ Shin said. ‘‘Not sure if I would have made that mistake on many other holes. Oh, well.’’

Henderson birdied four of her first eight holes to move up the leaderboard but could not get another birdie putt to drop in until the final hole when it was too late for her to catch Wie.

Wie, who has dealt with injuries since capturing her first major at Pinehurst, N.C., in 2014, started Sunday’s final round five strokes off the pace and needing to shoot low after Sei Young Kim set the bar high, flirting with a 59 before settling for a course record of 10-under 62.

Wie made a strong start with three birdies on the front nine then added three more in her first five holes after the turn before saving her best for last when the pressure was at its most suffocating.

‘‘It’s been a tough journey since 2014. I think it’s been kind of well documented. You know, I've had some injuries, had a really bad year, just lost a lot of confidence,’’ Wie said. ‘‘But I'm just really proud of myself for pulling myself out of it. I felt like I had a good year last year, a year where I built confidence, and I just want to keep building confidence from there.’’

European — George Coetzee closed with a 4-under 67 for a two-shot victory over Sam Horsfield in the Tshwane Open in Pretoria, South Africa.

It was the South African golfer’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.

Champions — Steve Stricker birdied the par-5 15th and closed with three pars for a 4-under 69 to win the Cologuard Classic, his first Champions event.

The 12-time PGA Tour winner finished two strokes ahead of Jerry Kelly (65), Gene Sauers (70), and Scott Dunlap (71). Stricker won in his eighth start on the 50-and-over tour.

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

Bob Estes (69), Olin Browne (69) and Rocco Mediate (72) tied for fifth at 10 under.