After nearly 100 PGA Tour events and 1,700 days, Phil Mickelson is back on top once again. As is usually the case with Lefty, his first victory since 2013 did not come easy as he edged Justin Thomas in the first sudden death playoff hole at the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship after a wild ride down the back nine.
Sunday's early narrative seemed too easy with the oldest player in the field (Mickelson, 47) going heads up with the youngest (Shubhankar Sharma, 21) in the event's final group. Then that story was upended by Thomas' theatrics on the 18th hole, where he holed out for eagle and a 64 to set the clubhouse lead at 16 under.
But Mickelson, ever the producer of great drama, birdied two of his final four holes to sneak into a playoff with Thomas after a 4-foot par putt on the 72nd hole complete his 5-under 66. From there, Mickelson made par at the par-3 17th (the first playoff hole), Thomas made bogey, and Mickelson took the tournament. It almost ended earlier than that, though. Mickelson missed, by the narrowest of margins, making a long birdie which would have brought the house down.
The win is the 43rd of Mickelson's historic PGA Tour career, but it's his first since 2013 when he won The Open Championship at Muirfield. It's his first WGC win since 2009 and the first time he's touched a trophy in 97 PGA Tour events and 102 combined worldwide starts spanning 1,687 days. En route to the victory, all Mickelson had to do was beat the hottest player in the world head-to-head.
As good as Thomas was on the weekend -- a 62-64 close ties the PGA Tour record for two-round score to end an event -- Mickelson was nearly his equal. He didn't quite require the fire Thomas needed to grab the win, but he shot a righteous 65-66 to pull off the victory.
Mickelson hit balls out of the brush, made lengthy birdie putts and fed his famous flop shots to the masses. It was the perfect Mickelson experience both on and off the course.
Dustin Johnson (T7) lurked every day but never made a true move at the top of the board.
Sergio Garcia (T7) finished in the top five in the field in strokes gained on approach shots, even though he lost strokes to the field on Saturday and Sunday.
Rickie Fowler (T37) finished No. 62 in a field of 64 with the flat stick. That's normally his bread and butter, and it let him down in Mexico.