Mickelson upbeat about 2010
Phil Mickelson is excited about his 2010 prospects after ending a difficult year on Sunday with a thrilling victory in Shanghai.
Phil Mickelson is excited about his 2010 prospects after ending a difficult year on Sunday with a thrilling victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai on Sunday.
In a year in which his wife and mother were diagnosed with breast cancer, the world number two followed up September’s Tour Championship triumph with a one-stroke victory over South Africa’s Ernie Els to claim a second WGC title of his career, adding to March’s CA Championship success, his fourth this year and the 43 of his professional career.
With a nervous wife Amy cleaning cupboards while watching at home in the States, Mickelson crucially birdied the penultimate hole of his battling three-under-par final round 69 after saving par with a testing breaking putt a hole earlier following a duffed attempted flop shot.
Els, playing sublime golf two groups behind the overnight leader and 10-under for the day, had snatched the lead at 17-under but bogeyed the last hole of a course record nine-under 63 after hitting his approach into water to complete a decisive two-shot swing in the American’s favour.
“It feels terrific because I had to fight so hard throughout the day,” said Mickelson.
“I didn’t hit it great, the putts weren’t falling, but I was able to hang in there.”
And while Mickelson would have preferred to have finished ahead of playing partner Tiger Woods when the world number one was at the top of his game following a below-par 72, the win sets the three-time major winner up for an eagerly anticipated new season.
“I am excited about 2010 because I am starting to play the best golf of my career,” added Mickelson.
“Everything is starting to come together as far as my driving goes, since working with Butch Harmon, my ball striking has been much better and my short game is as good as it’s ever been.
“And going into 2010, not only I am excited, I have high expectations.”
Following the enthralling nature of the win, the fact the victory will not count on the US PGA Tour did little to dampen Mickelson’s mood.
“I think it would have been great if it would count,” he said.
“It doesn’t take away from the fact I beat 15 of the top 20 players in the world and the gratifying feeling of having this trophy and having the tough round, fighting hard and making the keys putts.”
American Ryan Moore claimed third a further shot off the pace following a 68, while Rory McIlroy moved up to second place in the Race to Dubai with just two events remaining after finishing fourth by also posting a new course record.
Woods, who began the day two shots adrift of Mickelson in second, uncharacteristically missed several short putts during his level par final round and was forced to settle for sixth – five shots off the pace – along with Martin Kaymer.
The German also kept himself in the hunt for the Order of Merit with a five under 67.
“Anything that could go wrong went wrong for me,” said Woods. “I didn’t really envision shooting even par.
“The only only good thing is I don’t think many of the guys went deep, so that makes you feel a little better.
“I would have had to shoot 67 to get into a play-off so the guys took it deep and I didn’t.”
Spaniard Alvaro Quiros (66) and money list leader Lee Westwood (71) shared eighth at 11 under par to leave the Order of Merit finely balanced ahead of Hong Kong and the season-ending Dubai World Championship.
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