Phil Mickelson winning at a narrow, tree-lined course in Mexico where there’s nowhere to go off the tee except right down the middle of the fairway is both hilarious and perfect.to take Justin Thomas to a playoff where he defeated him on the first hole, a par 3.
It was an emotional, thrilling victory that capped a four-tournament stretch in which Mickelson finished in the top 10 in all four events he played (for the first time in his career). After a wooly week in Mexico, here is a look at three stats that helped Mickelson to the 43rd victory of his career.
1. Strokes gained putting (7.4): Mickelson is currently second on the PGA Tour, averaging just over a stroke per round gained on the rest of the field in this category. This week, he nearly doubled that. So for as good as he’s been this year on the greens, he still performed way over his head (and had to) to win this tournament.
“I’m starting to play some of my best golf,” Mickelson said after the win. “I’m actually hitting some shots better than I ever have in my career, I’m starting to putt better than I ever have in my career.”
2. Recovery from rough (five bogeys or worse): Lefty eschewing those tight fairways for the rough (and sometimes beyond) and still winning is so on brand it hurts! He finished T53 in a field of 64 by hitting 27-of-56 fairways, and yet he still only had four bogeys and a double on his card for the week (and one of those was on a par 3). This course and this player should not mesh together, but for two consecutive years, they sort of have done so. Mickelson finished T7 last year despite another wild time off the tee, which means he’s been beaten by just six golfers in two years at this tournament.
3. Scrambling (18 of 22): Not only was Mickelson great at scrambling around trees and through tight windows in his approach shots, but he was also elite around the greens. Lefty hit 50-of-72 greens in regulation but managed to get up and down 18 of the 22 times he missed them. This is nothing new for Mickelson of course, but it held things together for him as he was coming down the stretch. It also didn’t hurt that he was 65-of-69 on putts inside 10 feet.