Phil Mickelson returned to the winners circle at the WGC Mexico Championship for the first time since winning the 2013 Open, defeating Justin Thomas on the first play-off hole.
A thrilling final day that included a hole-out eagle on the 18th from Justin Thomas and several changes at the top of the leaderboard was capped off with Mickelson ending the longest winless drought of his career.
Thomas, who was coming off his eighth PGA Tour win at the Honda Classic last week, pushed himself into contention by posting a course record 62 on Saturday and holing out for eagle on the last hole on Sunday for a 64 - setting the clubhouse lead at 16-under.
Mickelson, who had let an early lead slip to Thomas, needed two birdies on his final four holes to force sudden death, or better to win outright. Back to back gains at the 14th and 15th holes put him alongside Thomas and Hatton (who eagled 14), and a long-range two-putt par on the 18th secured his spot in the play-off. Hatton bogeyed the 18th to miss out by one.
The pair headed back to the par-3 17th hole, and while Thomas put his shot into the rough, Mickelson's approach safely found the green. The 47-year-old's birdie had a look in the hole but just skipped past, but it would transpire that a par was enough to get the job done.
"I can't put into words how much this means to me," Mickelson said. "I knew it was going to be soon -- I've been playing too well for it not to be. But you just never know until it happens."
“It’s been a tough go the last four years. To have the belief that I was going to get there and finally break through, and do it, feels incredible.”
There's plenty of fight left in Lefty, and his 43rd PGA Tour win just spurred him on to want more. He still sits at ninth on the all-time PGA Tour victories list, two behind Walter Hagen and 36 behind Tiger Woods. But will he ever get to 50, he was asked?
"Oh I will," he said. "Yeah, I'll get there."
"I don't know (when I'll get to 50). Seven more wins and I'll be there, but I don't have the month or the time, but I will get there."
"More is to come. I’m starting to play some of my best golf. I’m actually hitting some shots better than I ever have in my career.”
And he's not wrong. Mickelson had already posted three top 10s in a row prior to his win at Golf Club de Chapultepec, which he hadn't achieved since 2009 - when he was ranked 2nd in the World.
As for Thomas, he was just proud he was able to put himself in that position after admitting on Thursday he felt the worst he'd ever felt over the golf ball.
"I'm probably more proud of myself than I have ever been," he said. "It takes a lot of patience and calmness for me to stay in it as much as I did, and that shot on 18 was unbelievable."
Hatton's dropped shot on 18 matched Rafa Cabrera's birdie for a share of 4th place, with Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Brian Harman two shots back at 13-under-par, and world No.1 Dustin Johnson sharing 7th with defending Masters Champion Sergio Garcia
Meanwhile Shubhankar Sharma, the 21-year-old from India who started with a two-shot lead, didn't make his first birdie until the 12th hole. He finished with consecutive bogeys for a 74, six shots behind in a three-way tie for ninth with Bubba Watson and Adam Hadwin, and leaving him outside of qualifying for the next WGC.
WITB: Phil Mickelson
Driver: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Fairway Wood: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (13.5 degrees)
Hybrid: Callaway Rogue (19 degrees)
Irons: Callaway Epic Pro (4), X Forged 18 (5-PW)
Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy PM Grind (56, 60, 64 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey Versa #9 White
Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X