MEXICO CITY – 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.
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.
LPGA TOUR: In Singapore, 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, 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.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: In Tucson, Arizona, Steve Stricker birdied the par-5 15th and closed with three pars for a 4-under 69 for his first PGA Tour Champions victory. He finished two strokes ahead of fellow Madison, Wisconsin, player Jerry Kelly (65), Gene Sauers (70) and Scott Dunlap (71). Stricker, 51, finished at 14-under 205.
EUROPEAN TOUR: In Pretoria, South Africa, 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. He finished on 18-under 266.