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November 8th 2009, Shanghai, China: Phil Mickelson claimed a thrilling one-stoke victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions after a day of drama at the Sheshan International Golf Club on Sunday.
The American world number two, winner here in 2007, shot a three-under-par 69 to triumph over South African Ernie Els, who charged into contention with a course record 63 but saw his title hopes sink when he found water on the 18th hole in the star-studded US$7 million event. - PHIL MICKELSON INTERVIEW
Little-known Ryan Moore of the United States settled for third place with a 68, followed by talented Irishman Rory McIlroy, who also fired a stunning 63. World number one Tiger Woods came in tied sixth after a frustrating 72 in Asia’s first World Golf Championships event.
Asia’s top finisher was Japan’s Daisuke Maruyama, who was the first player to establish a new course mark earlier in the day, as he finished tied 10th, seven shots behind Mickelson.
“It feels terrific to have won this tournament. This has been a very special event to have a World Golf Championships here in China, and to be the champion feels great. This is my last event of the year. I won't play again until the end of January, and so to finish the year with this victory feels wonderful,” said Mickelson, whose winning total of 17-under-par 271 was worth US$1.2 million.
Holding an overnight two-shot lead, Mickelson battled gamely against Els and Moore to lead at the turn after a 36 which included two birdies and two bogeys. After being overhauled by a resurgent Els, Mickelson hit three more birdies coming home to eventually prevail but the left-hander said a huge par putt safe from 15 feet on the 16th hole was decisive in delivering his fourth victory of the year and 42nd career worldwide title.
“Ernie played one of the greatest rounds, shot a course record, along with Rory and I was very fortunate to come out on top. This feels terrific, because I had to fight very hard. Nothing came easy. I didn't hit it great. The putts weren't falling, and yet, I hung in there, too, and was able to win by one.
“The putt (on 16) was the critical moment for me. It was not an easy putt. It broke quite a bit and I had to feed it in from the side, and it was the best putt I made all week,” said Mickelson.
Els charged up the leaderboard in majestic style and led by one playing the final hole, a par five. But he agonisingly pushed his five wood approach shot into the water guarding the green which allowed Mickelson the luxury of needing only a par on 18 to win. - ERNIE ELS INTERVIEW
“I had 218 yards to the front of the green. But I was on a severe downslope, and I was in between clubs, thinking I couldn't carry a four iron to the front, because I can hit my 4 iron to about 215,” said Els, whose card included eight birdies and one eagle.
“I tried to take a five wood, aim left and hit a big cut. But because of the downhill, I kind of stood back on my swing, and I hit the ground first, basically duffed it. For me to come back all of the way, to actually share the lead at that point, was quite nice. I'm disappointed about that, but I'm going to really think about the 63 I shot. I can't complain,” he added.
Woods never got out of first gear in his attempt to win a first HSBC Champions title following second place finishes in 2005 and 2006. He double bogeyed the fourth hole when he found water from off the tee and although he rallied briefly with three straight birdies around the turn, he never got close enough to playing partner Mickelson.- TIGER WOODS INTERVIEW
“Anything that could go wrong went wrong for me. I got off to a bad start and buried the ball in a tee shot there on seven. I hit a drive down the middle of the fairway on 10 and ended up in someone's ball mark. Just one of those days,” said Woods.
Maruyama, an Asian Tour member, was the first set a new course mark on Sunday thanks to eight birdies and a glorious eagle at the last hole where he hit a five wood to within three feet of the pin.
“Being the first match out in the morning, the greens were beautiful and I just holed everything,” said Maruyama, who won this year’s Panasonic Open on the Asian Tour. “I eagled the last hole with a nice shot and it was a perfect finish to a great round. This is my first WGC appearance, so I’m happy with a top-10 finish.”