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Mickelson Turns Back The Clock In Mexico

Phil Mickelson holes a critical birdie putt on the 16th hole of the final round in Mexico.
If Tiger Woods was looking for inspiration in his comeback year he might have found it in the strangest of places: his old nemesis, Phil Mickelson.

97 tournaments and almost five years since his last win, the 47-year-old lefty turned back the clock in Mexico City and defeated one of the hottest players in the game in extra time.

Mickelson claimed his 43rd PGA Tour win over reigning PGA Champion and last week’s winner Justin Thomas after a thrill-a-minute Sunday at the Golf Club de Chapultapec.

“I don’t know what to say,” Mickelson told Golf Channel’s Steve Sands moments after claiming the victory at the first hole of sudden death.

“It’s been a tough go the last four years not playing my best but to have the belief that I was going to get there and to finally break through and do it feels incredible.”

Mickelson began the final round at 11-under, in a share of second place and trailing 21-year-old Indian sensation Shabhankar Sharma by two shots.

Thomas was two shots further back and three groups ahead on the golf course Sunday thanks to a stunning Saturday 62 which took him from even par to 9-under and in the mix.

The world’s third ranked player wasted no time making his intentions clear with back-to-back birdies at the opening two holes and a 3-under front nine to keep pace.

After three more birdies between the 10th and 15th he was sharing the lead when an unexpected dropped shot at the par-3 17th looked to have cruelled his chances.

That, though, is not how Thomas’ year is unfolding. The 24-year-old promptly holed out from the fairway at the 18th for a stunning eagle to set the clubhouse mark at 16-under and see if the chasing pack could catch him.

Both Mickelson and Tyrrell Hatton came to the last with a share of the lead but the firey Englishman missed the green and couldn’t get up and down to drop to a share of third.

Mickelson, despite being less than pleased with his approach shot, managed a two-putt par and he and Thomas headed back to the 17th tee for a playoff.

Thomas’s tee shot was long and in a less than ideal lie while Mickelson found the perfect spot on the green.

A mediocre chip from Thomas left the stage clear for Mickelson whose birdie putt defied gravity to somehow stay above ground and put the pressure back on his younger opponent.

From just shy of 10 feet, Thomas missed and the victory belonged to Mickelson who was full of praise for his younger opponent.

“If you look at what Justin Thomas did this weekend, shooting 16-under on this golf course over two days, just incredible golf,” he said.

“Just trying to compete against these guys - I know and respect and admire how great these young players are and yet I welcome and cherish the opportunity to compete against them.

“And to have a little taste of success this year has been really encouraging.”

For his part Thomas was clearly disappointed though acknowledged the Mickelson victory was something special.

“It’s a bummer,” he said. “I mean if you would have told me I would be in a playoff after two rounds I would have told you you were lying.

“I played unbelievable golf the past two days. I’m probably more proud of myself than I have ever been. It takes a lot of patience and just kind of calmness for me to stay in it as much as I did and that shot on 18 was just unbelievable to even have a chance.

“I would have liked a bit of a better putt at it (on the playoff hole) but I’m really happy for Phil.”

Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Hatton shared third with Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Adam Bland was the best of the Australians at 7-under and T18, Marc Leishman dropped 26 places on the leaderboard with a horror Sunday 77 to finish 1-under and T37.

Wade Ormsby was T50 at 2-over and Brett Rumford 62nd at 13-over after a difficult week.

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