Thursday 19 July 2018

Mickelson rolls back the years to pip Thomas

George Coetzee with the Tshwane Open trophy. Photo: Getty Images
George Coetzee with the Tshwane Open trophy. Photo: Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Phil Mickelson ended his near five-year victory drought with a playoff win over red-hot Justin Thomas in a high-octane WGC-Mexico Championship.

Without a win since he claimed the Open Championship at Muirfield four years and seven months ago, the left-hander (47) clinched his 43rd PGA Tour victory with a par-three at the first extra hole as Thomas - bidding for back to back wins - flew the green and failed to get up and down.

It was a thrilling final day at Club de Golf Chapultepec as Thomas followed a three-putt bogey at the 17th by spinning a wedge back into the hole from 119 yards for an eagle two at the 18th to add a 64 to his third round 62 and set the target at 16 under par.

There were still thrills and spills to come as Tyrrell Hatton eagled the 16th and Mickelson birdied the 15th and 16th to tie with Thomas on 16 under.

But not only did they fail to birdie the 18th for the win, the Englishman made bogey for a 67 and a share of third with Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello after a 67 as Mickelson made seven birdies in a swashbuckling 66 that suggests that he will be a force at Augusta National in a month's time.

"To have the belief that I was going to get there and finally break through and do it feels incredible," said Mickelson. "I believe that more is to come."

Struggled

Overnight leader Shubshankar Sharma headed home for the Indian Open after shooting a 74 to finish tied ninth on 10-under, but Paul Dunne's next start may not be until April's Spanish Open in Madrid.

The world number 84 struggled from the tee all week and closed with a level par 71 to finish tied 55th on seven-over, picking up $58,000.

With no events scheduled, he now needs a sponsor's invitation for a PGA Tour event if he's to have any chance of making the top 64 in the world who contest the WGC-Dell Technologies Championship in three weeks' or the top 50 who will be exempt for the Masters.

On the European Tour, South Africa's George Coetzee produced a sensational mid-round purple patch with the putter to win the Tshwane Open and his fourth win on African soil.

Having grown up at Pretoria Country Club, Coetzee (31) had just ten putts in eight holes from the sixth, making five birdies to open up a three-shot advantage en route to a four-under 67 and a two-shot win over England's Sam Horsfield on 18-under par.

In the Spanish Amateur Open Championship, Billy McKenzie became the seventh English winner in 15 years when he beat compatriot Alex Fitzpatrick 3 and 2 in the 36-hole final at La Manga.

Sweden's Frida Kinhult beat Spain's Natalia Aseguinolaza 1 up to retain the weather-affected Spanish Ladies' Amateur Championship at Montecastillo Golf & Sports Resort.

With Friday almost totally washed out, Killarney's Valerie Clancy fell 3 and 2 to Lou Vrain of France over 12 holes in round one on Saturday as Lisburn's Grant and Lurgan's Annabel Wilson lost over nine holes in the last 16.

Grant beat The Netherlands' Beatrice Walling 1 up but then fell to Kinhult by the same margin while Wilson beat Denmark's Sofie Kibsgaard 2 and 1 before losing 4 and 3 to Romy Wickers of The Netherlands.

Irish Independent

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