It’s all go for January after the R&A and USGA published their finalised Rules of Golf. So what’s coming in? Steve Carroll outlines the changes.
Magic Mickelson returns to winning ways in Mexico
After a break of four and a half years Phil Mickelson returned to winning ways after a spectacular week in Mexico and a play-off victory over Justin Thomas.
So, what happened at the WGC-Mexico Championship?
An unbelievable week ended with Phil Mickelson becoming the oldest winner of a WGC at 47 and finally ended a winless run that goes back to the 2013 Open Championship.
Mickelson, who shot 65-66 over the weekend, posted his 43rd win on the PGA Tour after making a par at the first play-off hole against Justin Thomas – his birdie effort somehow staying out despite catching much of the lip – to continue his brilliant start to the season but winning his third WGC took some doing after Thomas’ heroics.
After two days Thomas, the winner last week at the Honda Classic, was down in 38th spot. Then he posted a course-record 62 to move into the top 10 and then, to crown everything, he holed out from the 18th fairway for a stunning 64.
Thomas was relentless in his racking up of birdies, there were six in the first 15 holes, but he then three-putted the penultimate hole to move back to the chasing pack. But then this from 121 yards, a twirl of the club and cue wild celebrations…
And that seemed to be that with Mickelson, who had led at the turn, regularly getting himself out of position and Tyrrell Hatton huffing and puffing his way through the day. But the 15th is a short par 5 and Hatton, the World No 16, made eagle to tie the lead (see below) while Mickelson birdied to get within one of the pair of them.
At 16 the left-hander rolled one in dead centre for a sixth birdie of the day and Hatton’s second putt, from 10 feet, also dropped to leave the three of them in a share of the lead.
At 17 both threatened, at 18 Hatton missed the green right to drop a shot to drop out of the play-off which finished when Thomas chipped up and missed from eight feet.
The overnight leader Shubhankar Sharma couldn’t get anything going, his 74 just about keeping him inside the top 10 while Rafa Cabrera Bello battled gamely. The Spaniard came to the last needing to replicate Thomas’ hole-out – he was eight feet wide, but a birdie got him into a share for third with Hatton. Both will have the consolation of some huge Ryder Cup points.
Get LOUD!— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 4, 2018
The winning moment from a fan’s 👀 view. 🙌🗣 pic.twitter.com/IH76HQbrnR
“Me and my caddie went up to [Mickelson]. He thought we were media and he said, ‘Not right now, after the round. Then he just realised and said, ‘So sorry, I thought you were media.’ He said ‘hi.’ I said ‘hi.’ Then he made a few putts and he came back to me and said, ‘Have a good day.’ It was nice,” – Shubhankar Sharma ahead of the third round.
Have a listen, and then another, and then another. And, finally, one more. There are more iconic pieces of golf commentary but I’m struggling to think of anything more excitable and sustained as this.
The normal golfing version of Ross Fisher’s hole-in-one would involve a little chuckle and something along the lines of ‘well, that’s just lovely. Ross is a great ball striker you know and there’s another example of that. Moves him to three under…’
And then we get this ‘stupendo swing’ and a minute’s worth of absolute gold from the Spanish-speaking announcer which would do a World Cup final at the Azteca justice.
Thanks to this 9-iron at Chapultepec Fisher will now surely be replayed around the world for decades to come.