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Even with multiple miscues, Mickelson manages victory in China

11/12/2007 - Golf Phil Mickelson

SHANGHAI, China -- Phil Mickelson glanced at the gleaming
trophy on his left, rolled his eyes and broke into a sheepish grin.


"I cannot believe I'm here as the champion right now," he
said.



Here's why.


Lefty overcame six penalty strokes in the final round, blew a
three-shot lead with seven to play, and still won Sunday's HSBC
Champions tournament on the second hole of a three-way playoff with
Englishmen Ross Fisher and Lee Westwood.


The victory in Asia's richest tournament earned Mickelson
$833,000. It was his fourth victory this season, and it also gave
him a tournament title that Tiger Woods has failed twice to win.


Fisher, ranked No. 141, had a one-stroke lead going to the 72nd
hole. It seemed Mickelson would need several clutch shots to at
least force a playoff. Instead, he dumped his long approach into
water off the right edge of the green.


"I never thought after hitting in the water I had a chance,"
said Mickelson, whose win in China was only his second outside the
United States, and first since he won in France 14 years ago.


The only player who made more blunders than Mickelson was
Fisher, particularly at the final hole of regulation.


"I can't remember a final hole like this," said Mickelson, who
made a 4-foot birdie putt at the second playoff hole to eliminate
both Englishmen.

Fisher had already played four shots when Mickelson holed out.
Westwood dumped two in the water and was out of it when Mickelson
dropped the winning putt.


"It was the most unusual back nine I've even been a part of,"
Mickelson added.


The scene for the confused, whirlwind finish began shaping up
with Mickelson leading Fisher by three shots after 11. He dropped
four shots on 12, 13 and 15. On 15, his bogey and Fisher's 3-foot
birdie gave the Englishman a two-stroke lead with three holes to
play.


"I had a huge lead early in the round, but hit some horrible
shots," Mickelson said. "It was a difficult day. But I kept
fighting and it's a funny game, golf. You just never know what's
going to happen."


Mickelson got one back with a birdie at 16. At 18, both Fisher
and Mickelson hit the fairway at the 538-yard hole. Fisher went
first with his second shot, and elected to try reaching the green
in two instead of playing safe and laying up.


He avoided water on the right but landed in thick Bermuda rough
just off the green. On his second, Mickelson went for it, too, and
found water.


Only needing to get down in three for a par and the win, Fisher
chipped his third onto the sloping green. It bounced off and into
lateral water. He took a penalty drop and needed a chip and two
putts for a double bogey to finish on a 2-over 74, 10 under for the
tournament.


That left Mickelson with a chance to win in regulation. His
10-foot putt for par, which would have left him alone at 11 under,
slipped by. He finished with a 76, also 10 under.


Westwood, who was nine behind when the day began, ran in six
birdies on the back nine, and missed two other opportunities on 17
and 18. He finished with a 67 and was in the clubhouse when he was
called back for the playoff.


On the first playoff hole, Fisher missed an 8-foot birdie
attempt at 18 that would have won the tournament at the swanky
Sheshan Golf Club just outside Shanghai. Mickelson finally put it
away on the second hole.


"I guess I'm not really looking back on this round and
remembering very many of the shots," Mickelson said. "I'm just
thankful that I won. I feel like I have a head start on '08."