Mickelson finally can celebrate

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Associated Press Phil Mickelson won in sudden death on Sunday in Mexico City.

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Phil Mickelson knew this was coming, even when he had so little to show for it.

Mickelson had gone 101 tournaments around the world since he last won at Muirfield in the 2013 British Open, which moved him to No. 2 in the world and gave him the third leg of the career Grand Slam. In more than two decades on the PGA Tour, he had gone only two seasons without winning.

And then it was up to four straight years and counting.

There was more frustration than self-doubt. And with Mickelson, even at age 47, there was never a loss of confidence.

"I knew that wasn't going to be my last one, no," he said Sunday. "And this isn't either."

The most recent one came in the high altitude of the Mexico Championship, and it was another pulsating performance, as often is the case with Mickelson.

Five birdies in the opening 10 holes gave him the lead. Right when he was on the verge of taking control, he went for the green on the par-5 11th hole only for the shot to carom off a tree and into the bushes near the edge of Chapultepec Golf Club. Deep in the bushes, he blasted out and hit the crowd. He wound up making bogey. Then came another wild drive that bounced along the cart path, forcing him to scramble for par.

Three groups ahead of him, Justin Thomas delivered the shot of the tournament. Eleven shots behind going into the weekend and suddenly tied for the lead, Thomas holed out from 119 yards on the final hole for eagle to cap off a 62-64 weekend as he went for his second straight victory.

"I didn't know that he holed out," Mickelson said. "I just saw that he finished at 16 under when I was playing the 15th, and that meant that I needed to birdie two to get even with him."

And that's what he did. A perfect drive and a 6-iron for a two-putt birdie, and then a 20-foot birdie on the 16th.

Mickelson closed with a 66 and headed to a sudden-death playoff with Thomas, a duel between players separated by 23 years of age. Missing from the group was Tyrrell Hatton, who delivered his own charge with four straight 3s on his card, the last one an eagle to tie for the lead. But he missed the 18th green with a wedge, chipped strong and missed the par putt.

The sudden-death playoff ended quickly. Thomas went long with a gap wedge to the par-3 17th and chipped to 10 feet short of the hole. Mickelson hit the green, narrowly missed the birdie putt and walked off a winner - finally - when Thomas missed his putt.

The disappointment was tempered by the guy who beat him.

Mickelson took interest in Thomas before he even reached the PGA Tour. They played a practice round at the 2014 U.S. Open, and Mickelson said that day to the media, "You'll get to know Justin Thomas soon enough."

Thomas, the PGA Tour player of the year last season and already a two-time winner this season, moved to No. 2 in the world.

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