Phil Mickelson Beats Justin Thomas in Playoff, Wins 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2018

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - MARCH 04:  Phil Mickelson walks to the 17th tee during the final round of World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship at Club De Golf Chapultepec on March 4, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson earned his first PGA Tour victory since 2013 by beating Justin Thomas in a sudden-death playoff Sunday at the WGC-Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Naucalpan, Mexico.

Mickelson finished 16 under for the tournament after posting a five-under 66 in the final round.

Bet365 put his drought in perspective:

bet365 @bet365

After: 145,756,800 seconds 2,429,280 minutes 40,488 hours 1,687 days 47-year-old Phil Mickelson is a winner again! https://t.co/Zf87SZLhlq

Thomas was gracious in defeat:

Justin Thomas @JustinThomas34

What a week.. Easy to be upset about losing the playoff, but can’t believe I even had a chance! Hats off to Phil, dude has grinded his ass off the last few years to be back in the winners circle. Happy for him 👍🏼

Thomas started the fourth round about 40 minutes before Mickelson approached the first tee box, so he had an agonizing wait to see if his score would hold up.

The 2017 PGA Championship winner wrapped up his round with one of the shots of the tournament, finding the cup from 121 yards to eagle No. 18:


WOW! @JustinThomas34 takes a two-shot lead on the final hole! #QuickHits https://t.co/cRf6K0EDvI

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff were among those stunned by the clutch shot:

Jack Nicklaus @jacknicklaus

The eagle has landed for @JustinThomas34! But this young man keeps soaring.

Jared Goff @JaredGoff16

.@JustinThomas34 you savage...

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It looked like a three-man playoff was in store, as Mickelson and Tyrrell Hatton owned a share of the lead with one hole left. But Mickelson stayed at 16 under with a par on No. 18, and Hatton bogeyed to slip into a tie for third.

That set up a head-to-head battle between Mickelson and Thomas at No. 17. The hole had given Thomas trouble earlier in the day, as he bogeyed it.

Mickelson set the bar by sinking a par putt. Thomas had an opportunity to force a second playoff hole, but his putt rolled by the left side of the cup. He appeared to know shortly after he made contact with the ball that it was offline. The European Tour shared a replay of the tournament's decisive shot:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

Phil wins 🏆 Thomas' missed putt hands Mickelson the #WGCMexico title. https://t.co/56IwTojbVY

The fact Mickelson's putting helped him seal the win was fitting.

According to PGATour.com, he finished the tournament tied for 25th in greens in regulation (69.4 percent) and tied for 53rd in driving accuracy (48.2 percent), but he was third in strokes gained putting (7.4) and in putts per green in regulation (1.7).

The five-time major champion has reeled off four straight top-10 finishes and has five top 10s in eight PGA Tour events this season.

Prior to the WGC-Mexico Championship, Mickelson, 47, had 25-1 odds to win the Masters in April, per OddsShark. Those odds were 11th-best in the field.

Mark O'Meara (1998) is the last Masters champion to win at age 40 or older, and he was only 41 when he edged Fred Couples and David Duval. Nicklaus was 46 when he won the 1986 Masters, and he remains the oldest to earn a green jacket.

History certainly doesn't favor Mickelson in his pursuit of a fourth Masters triumph, but he's playing well at the moment and positioning himself to be among the top contenders at Augusta National Golf Club.

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