They were expecting and maybe hoping for a Cinderella story down there in Mexico City on Sunday.
They got one but it wasn’t quite what might have been anticipated.
Upstart Shubhankar Sharma thrilled the golf world for 54 holes, looking to write an amazing Cinderella ending to the WGC-Mexico.
But the 21-year-old couldn’t hold up under the pressure of a final round with some of the world’s best players applying first-degree heat.
By day’s end, there was a Cinderella story but Cinderella turned out to be a bit on the elderly side — like 47-years-old.
Masterful Phil Mickelson stepped from the depths of nearly five seasons without a win and ended up as the last man standing at the Chapultepec Golf Club, a sudden-death winner over 2017 Player Of The Year Justin Thomas.
Mickelson emerged from a final round battle royal that saw four players in it down the stretch — Thomas, Mickelson, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Tyrrell Hatton.
Thomas, winner last week at the Honda Classic, became the leader in the clubhouse when he holed out a 121-yard wedge shot for an eagle on the 72nd hole to post 16-under par after a round of 64. All Thomas did was shoot 62-64 over the weekend. “If you told me on Friday that I’d be in a playoff, I would have said you’re lying,” Thomas said.
Mickelson tied him with birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to shoot 66.
Tyrrell Hatton had a chance to make it a three-man playoff. He was at 16-under but tugged his approach into the 18th into the greenside rough. His pitch came out hot, 10 feet past the hole and he missed his putt for par and a playoff spot.
It didn’t take long in overtime. Thomas hit first at the par three 17th and his gap wedge sailed over the green. Mickelson left himself 16 feet from the hole with a good look at birdie.
While Thomas was looking over his second shot, suddenly it became a scene from the Keystone Kops when an unaware, oblivious photographer nearly stepped on Thomas’ ball. “I should have let him kick it, I might have had a better lie,” Thomas quipped. From the tough spot, Thomas left his chip nine feet short.
After Mickelson’s near-make and easy par tap-in, Thomas promptly missed his par putt and Mickelson was a winner for the first time since he hoisted the Claret Jug back in 2013.
“I don’t know what to say,” Mickelson said, shaking his head after Thomas’ miss. “Feels incredible. I feel like I’m playing my best golf — I think there’s more to come. I’m appreciate of my support system. To have something like this happen, it’s all worthwhile. It’s beyond belief. I admire and respect how good these young guys are. I try to look calm on the outside but I’m shaking inside,” Mickelson added.
“It’s a bummer,” said Thomas, who looked like he threw away his chances when he made bogey at the 17th in regulation play to fall back to 14-under. “I played unbelievable golf the last two days. But I’m happy for Phil, congratulations to him.”