WGC-Mexico: Phil Mickelson claims dramatic win

Golf
A sweet moment for Phil Mickelson
A sweet moment for Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson is 16/1 for the US Masters with Sky Bet after claiming his first victory since the 2013 Open at the WGC-Mexico Championship .

Day four report

Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson defeated Justin Thomas in a play-off after an extraordinary climax to the WGC-Mexico Championship to claim his first victory since the 2013 Open.

He is now 16/1 with Sky Bet to win the Masters at Augusta

Mickelson parred the first extra hole to become, at the age of 47, the oldest winner of a World Golf Championship event and secure the 43rd title of his career.

Thomas failed to get up and down from the back of the 17th green, the same hole he had three-putted in regulation to kick-start a remarkable sequence of events.

The US PGA champion, who won the Honda Classic in a play-off eight days earlier, then holed his approach to the 72nd hole for an eagle two to set a clubhouse target of 16 under par which looked difficult to catch.

But England's Tyrrell Hatton also reached 16 under thanks to birdies on the 12th and 14th and an eagle of his own on the 15th, while playing partner Mickelson birdied the 15th and 16th to make it a three-way tie.

That tie was broken when Hatton bogeyed the final hole of regulation and meant the 26-year-old had to settle for a share of third with Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello, who had birdied the same hole in his closing 67.

Mickelson and Thomas headed back to the par-three 17th for sudden death and after Mickelson's birdie attempt had agonisingly grazed the edge of the hole, Thomas missed from 10 feet for par.

Thomas had been 11 shots off the lead at the halfway stage of the $7.2million event, but carded a course record of 62 in the third round and a brilliant closing 64, with Mickelson shooting a final round of 66.

Day three report

India's Shubhankar Sharma remains on course to claim a remarkable third win in eight events in the WGC-Mexico Championship after holding onto his lead at Chapultepec Golf Club.

Sharma was outside the world's top 450 when he won the Joburg Open in December, but proved that was no fluke with a second European Tour title in the Maybank Championship in Malaysia last month.

Those victories took the 21-year-old to the top of the Race to Dubai and secured a World Golf Championship debut in Mexico City, where an elite 64-man field is competing for a winner's cheque of $1.2million from a total prize fund of $7.2million.

And after opening rounds of 65 and 66 gave Sharma a two-shot lead at the halfway stage, the world number 75 added a third round of 69 to finish 13 under par, two ahead of Masters champion Sergio Garcia, five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, Tyrrell Hatton and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Hatton had been suffering from a bout of food poisoning earlier in the week but the world number 16 showed no ill effects as he raced to the turn in 30, chipped in for a birdie on the 12th and almost repeated the trick for an eagle on the 15th.

"I definitely feel better, it was only an issue Wednesday night really and the Imodium has helped a lot," Hatton told Sky Sports after a flawless 64.

"I got off to a good start, felt comfort with my game and was five under through nine which I was over the moon with.

"I felt like I lost my swing a little on the back nine but overall if you said I was going to shoot seven under at the start of the day I'd have been buzzing so very happy with that."

Mickelson, 47, who has not tasted victory since the 2013 Open at Muirfield, also did not drop a shot in his 65, while the Spanish pair of Garcia and Cabrera Bello both shot 69.

Defending champion and world number one Dustin Johnson is three shots off the pace on 10 under par alongside Pat Perez, Xander Schauffele and Brian Harman, with world number two Justin Thomas another stroke adrift.

Thomas, who is seeking back-to-back wins after victory in the Honda Classic on Sunday, was 11 shots off the pace at the start of the day but fired eight birdies and an eagle in a course record of 62.

Day two report

Shubhankar Sharma's remarkable rise continued to gather pace at the WGC-Mexico Championship as he claimed a two-shot halfway lead at Chapultepec Golf Club.

The 21-year-old from India was outside the world's top 450 when he won the Joburg Open in December, and he followed that up with victory in Malaysia last month.

Those wins have put Sharma top of the European Tour's Race to Dubai, while he has also risen to 75th in the official world golf ranking.

Making his World Golf Championships debut, Sharma opened with a round of 65 on Thursday and stormed home in 31 to follow up with a five under par 66. He is 15/2 with Sky Bet to go on and win the tournament behind 5/1 joint-favourites Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia.

At 11 under for the week Sharma leads by two from Spaniards Rafa Cabrera Bello and Garcia, as well as American Xander Schauffele.

"I'm really happy," Sharma said in quotes reported on the European Tour website. "I couldn't be in a better situation.

"I played so well, and the bogeys that I made today were just three-putts. Otherwise I just get the ball in play all day and it was great to finish with three birdies in a row.

"I thought about nothing, I just wanted to have fun. It's my first WGC and I was happy that I'll play four days because I missed the cut in the last two events that I played. Even though I missed the cuts, I knew I was playing well. So I just wanted to have fun, and yeah, I've had a lot of fun.

"I worked all my life to come and play at a high stage like this. You have to expect great things from yourself if you want to play at a high stage."

Having made a perfect start by driving to a couple of feet on the reachable first and converting for eagle, Sharma three-putted the second and third for consecutive bogeys.

However, he reeled off five unanswered birdies on the back nine - including a hat-trick over the last three holes - to continue a remarkable first WGC appearance.

Garcia eagled the 11th from 20 feet and also had four birdies in a round of 65, while his compatriot Cabrera Bello birdied four of his first six holes, and eagled the 15th, as well as carding two bogeys in a 67.

Schauffele goes into the weekend bogey-free after the 24-year-old carded three birdies in a 68. Johnson is among a group of players one stroke further adrift on seven under.

England's Chris Paisley went from six-under-par midway through his second round to two-under-par after dropping four shots in three holes on his back nine.

Day one leaders

-7 Louis Oosthuizen

-6 Chris Paisley, Xander Schauffele, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Day one report

England's Chris Paisley may not have been deemed worthy of a profile picture on the tournament website, but his name featured proudly near the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the WGC-Mexico Championship.

Paisley was ranked 289th in the world at the end of 2017, but won his maiden European Tour title in the BMW SA Open in January and followed that up with fifth-place finishes in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

That secured his World Golf Championship debut in Mexico City via the top 10 on the European Tour's Race to Dubai and the 31-year-old from Hexham made the most of his opportunity in an elite 64-man field competing for a winner's cheque for £1.2million from a prize fund of £7.2million.

Paisley fired seven birdies and a solitary bogey to card an opening six-under-par 65 at Chapultepec Golf Club and end the day just a shot behind former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.

Sky Bet make him 25/1 to complete a remarkable transition from journeyman to established world-class player with victory here.

"It's great, a bit surreal in some ways," Paisley told Sky Sports. "I think I maybe caught myself out a bit on the last few holes, maybe got a little bit ahead of myself and realised where I was. To be up there playing so well and competing with guys like this is fantastic."

Paisley held the outright lead after following a front nine of 31 with birdies on the 10th, 14th and 15th, but bogeyed the 16th shortly before Oosthuizen added an eagle on the 15th to five earlier birdies to vault to the top of the leaderboard.

"My putting was really good," Paisley added. "The first 15 holes tee to green, I was really solid, hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens. (It was) a bit of a scrappy finish with a few missed clubs and a poor shot on 17 but I held it together.

"I gave myself a lot of chances but they're tough greens to putt on and to hole as many putts as I did, I'm delighted."

Oosthuizen, who finished 24th in the Honda Classic last week after a disappointing final round of 75, said: "I've been hitting it really good for the last three or four weeks, two of those just practising back at Palm Beach and last week I felt I played really well and just caught up in the Bear Trap on Sunday.

"I drove it pretty well today, I've got a lot of confidence with my driver and was just teeing it up on a lot of holes and making good swings."

Paisley shared second place with Tour Championship winner Xander Schauffele, with Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat on five under.

World number two Jon Rahm is three off the pace after a 67, with fellow Spaniard and Masters champion Sergio Garcia a shot further back. World number one and defending champion Dustin Johnson shot 69, but last year's runner-up and European number one Tommy Fleetwood struggled to a 72.

Rahm is Sky Bet's 6/1 favourite from Oosthuizen at 7/1.

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