In his third week with a new coach, Phil Mickelson suddenly looks as good as ever.
Mickelson added a mini-major to his collection yesterday by winning The Players Championship with control that had been lacking the last 3 months, closing with a 3-under 69 for a two-shot victory that returned him to No. 2 in the world and pointed him in the right direction with the U.S. Open approaching next month.
Sergio Garcia birdied four of his last five holes for a 66, but he was a ceremonial runner-up in Ponte Vedre Beach, Fla.
The real victim was Sean O'Hair and the familiar culprit was that island green on the par-3 17th at the TPC Sawgrass. O'Hair, who lives in West Chester, was two shots behind until his 9-iron flew the green into the water. He went to the drop area and watched another shot bounce over the green, and finally walked away with a quadruple-bogey 7.
O'Hair bogeyed the final hole for a 76 and went from second place to 11th, the difference of $747,000.
Mickelson finished at 11-under 277 for his second PGA Tour win this year, and the 31st of his career. He earned $1.62 million from the $9 million purse, the richest in golf.
What mattered more was how he played. Mickelson missed only two greens in the final round during a well-played duel with O'Hair.
This was hardly "Phil the Thrill." In fact, the only excitement came on the 18th hole, when the tournament already was decided.
Mickelson's approach landed on the edge of the water, and stayed dry by about 12 inches.
He finished with his bogey, the first one on his card in 27 holes.
It was a harsh ending for the 24-year-old O'Hair, who went toe-to-toe with Mickelson along the back nine and hit a shot on the 17th that looked perfect until he could no longer see it.
"You've got to make something happen," O'Hair said. "I didn't bust my butt for 4 days to get second place. Obviously, I paid for it."
Mickelson walked off the 18th green with his arm around Butch Harmon, whom he hired last month with hopes Harmon - the former coach of Greg Norman and Tiger Woods - could take one more player to No. 1 in the world. Woods is ranked No. 1, more than double the margin over Mickelson.
In other tournaments:
* At Williamsburg, Va., Suzann Pettersen made a 1 1/2-foot putt for par after Jee Young Lee missed one from about 2 feet on the third extra hole, giving the Norwegian her first LPGA win in 82 starts.
* At Marbella, Spain, Lee Westwood won his first PGA European Tour title in almost 4 years, capturing the Andalucia Open by two strokes. *