13 hours ago
Phil Mickelson edged out Justin Thomas in sudden death at the WGC-Mexico Championship on Sunday, earning his first win in more than four-and-a-half years. That he won, however, is secondary. Victory or not, Mickelson’s display was theater of the highest degree.
Despite the Club de Golf Chapultepec demanding accuracy off the tee, Mickelson explored parts of Mexico that Coronado failed to discover. He hit fans, routinely short-sided himself and bogeyed one of the course’s easiest holes … you know, the general Mickelson repertoire. And yet his irons and wedges were magical, always managing to save him from tree limbs, patchy rough and galleries. Like Julius Erving with dunking, Mickelson has transformed scrambling from an act to an art form.
Better yet, his putting, historically uneven but solid thus far in 2018, continued to be stellar. He was in total control on the greens, dropping his share of bombs, yes, but more importantly taking care of the testy ones from six feet and in. If you’re wondering how one ranked 131st in strokes gained/off-the-tee has been one of this season’s most consistent players, look no further than his flat stick.
Of course, the mention of his play fails to encapsulate Mickelson’s performance, in every sense of the word. On Saturday, Mickelson inadvertently blew off 36-hole leader Shubhankar Sharma thinking he was a reporter. Cameras caught him telling fans he signs autographs after rounds … in fluent Spanish. Before play on Sunday, he asked Tyrrell Hatton, far from a stranger to golf’s biggest stages, how he pronounces his name. And during the final round, he aided Sharma on a ruling involving a drop, and gave more thumbs-up than a mother liking her children’s Facebook posts.
It was a stage for Mickelson’s goofiness, daring, vulnerability, talent, hubris and engagement. If one was forced to explain the Phil Mickelson Experience to the uninitiated, this weekend would serve as a proper “Best Of” montage.