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Phil Mickelson hangs on in Shanghai

Lefty holds off charge by Ernie Els to win by two as Tiger Woods fades.

November 09, 2009|Associated Press

SHANGHAI — Thousands of fans caused a bottleneck at the entrance to the HSBC Champions, all of them eager to see the Sunday showdown at Sheshan International between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

The Shanghai surprise? Woods turned out to be merely a spectator too.

Mickelson built a six-shot lead over the world's No. 1 player on the front nine, then rallied to beat another familiar foe, Ernie Els, with two clutch putts for a one-shot victory in the final World Golf Championship of the year.

Mickelson closed with a three-under-par 69 and won for the first time playing with Woods in the final group.

Even with Woods out of the picture -- he shot 72 and wound up five shots behind -- Mickelson provided his usual dose of entertainment.

Trailing by one shot, Mickelson whiffed on a risky flop shot below the 16th green, only to save par with perhaps his best putt of the year, an 18-foot slider that dropped on its final turn. He followed that with a 10-foot birdie on the 17th, which turned out to be the difference when Els hit into the water on the par-five 18th and made bogey.

Woods looked out of sorts from the start, missing two short birdie putts before taking double bogey on the par-three fourth when he hit into a canal left of the green where residents on the other side routinely dump their garbage.

"Anything that could go wrong went wrong for me today," Woods said. "Just one of those days."

Mickelson finished at 17-under 271 and earned $1.2 million. And while the PGA Tour does not count this World Golf Championship as official, it sure felt that way.

"It would be great if it would count, but it doesn't take away from the fact that I beat 15 of the 20 best players in the world, and the gratifying feeling of having this trophy," he said.

Els went out in 30 and took the outright lead with a birdie on the par-five 14th. He was on the verge of a course record and his first victory in nearly 20 months before hitting his second shot into a pond on the 18th hole. He had to settle for a share of the course record, 63, matched earlier by Rory McIlroy, who finished fourth, and Daisuke Maruyama.

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