Mexico City – Phil Mickelson at 47 years old was the oldest man in the field at WGC Mexico Championship. Coming into Sunday, he trailed the youngest player in the field, 21 year old Shubhankar Sharma from India by two strokes at Club de Golf Chapultepec. Phil Mickelson’s last victory came at the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield in Scotland (the same day as Sharma’s 17th Birthday). The unknown Sharma was doing the unthinkable, a cinderella story shocking the peleton after rounds of 65-66-69 had him at 13 under par to start Sunday. However, it was not Sharma that shined Sunday from the “Young Gun” contingent, once again it was Justin Thomas the winner just a week before at the Honda Classic).
After struggling in rounds one and two with rounds of 72-70, Thomas said “I’ve never felt more uncomfortable over the ball”. After a swing tip from his Dad Mike, J.T fired a course record 9 under par 62 to get back in the tournament. On Sunday, he was nearly as spectacular – holing out on the 72nd hole from 119 yards for eagle to post -16 in the clubhouse.
Mickelson trailed by two after Thomas’ heroics. Lefty then birdied the 15th to get within a shot of the lead. Then a lengthy 30 ft bomb on the 16th tied Thomas. Mickelson had 36 feet for the win on the 18th, but could do no better than two putt (for 66 and a 16 under par) to force a playoff with Thomas.
Thomas went first on the 161 yard par 3 – 17th and air mailed the green with a gap wedge. Phil hit the middle of the green leaving him 16 feet from the cup. Thomas chipped to within 10 feet and watched as Phil’s putt for the win grazed the edge of the hole finishing just inches away.
Safely in for par, Mickelson watched as Thomas missed his putt to stay alive – the drought was over, Phil Mickelson was once again a winner on the PGA Tour. The victory was Mickelson’s 43rd of his career, and moves him back inside the top 20 in the Official World Golf Rankings to 18th (3rd in the Fedex Cup standings). Afterwards Phil reflected on what the win meant, “I can’t really put it into words, given the tough times over the last four years, and the struggle to get back here and knowing that I was able to compete at this level but not doing it, and the frustration that it led to. To finally break through and have this validation means a lot to me.” It wasn’t long after the victory that the old confidence came out. When asked if he can get seven more wins to reach 50 for his career, Lefty said “Oh I will.”
Shubhankar Sharma struggled Sunday with a final round 74 to finish tied for 9th at 10 under par.