Sam Torrance: Age-defying Phil Mickelson and his renaissance have not yet peaked

 
Sam Torrance
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World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship - Final Round
Phil Mickelson claimed his first tournament win since 2013 with victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship on Sunday (Source: Getty)

Going out there and claiming victory at the age of 47, having not won for five years, is quite stupendous so hats off to Phil Mickelson for his WGC-Mexico Championship success on Sunday.

Mickelson became the oldest winner of a World Golf Championship event when he defeated fellow countryman and US PGA champion Justin Thomas after parring the first hole of the play-off, ending a run of 101 tournaments without a win.

The left-hander had finished in the top six in each of his three previous events and it’s not like him to talk about his game being in such good shape but he was bullish about his chances before the opening round.

He appeared to have a new practice routine when he was on the range; he was swinging very fast with a heavy club and it looked extremely impressive and very loose. The five-time Major winner played beautifully and he is defying his age.

I think Mickelson’s golf at the moment is right up there with some of the best he has played. He is holding his nerve, his putting is great, his chipping is exquisite and he’s going to make the United States Ryder Cup team.

With next month’s Masters rapidly approaching, this is the perfect time for him to be finding his groove and the three-time winner will certainly be one of the strong contenders to don the Green Jacket at Augusta.

If he did so, Mickelson, who has risen to No18 in the world rankings following his 43rd PGA Tour win, would be the oldest winner of a Major but I don’t think he’s peaked yet; I think he’s keeping some in reserve.

It was great to hear him talking after his win about reaching 50 PGA Tour victories and setting himself new challenges. His renaissance all boils down to his love for the game; when he takes time off he often plays 36 holes with his mates back home.

He’s very healthy, happy and the standard of his golf could not be better. For me, he is one of the top 10 players of all time. Let it roll, Phil. In addition to Mickelson’s brilliance, it was a fantastic week for Europe with Tyrrell Hatton and Rafa Cabrera Bello tied for third after finishing one shot adrift of Mickelson and Thomas.

Hatton is a tremendous frontrunner, as he proved at St Andrews when he defended his Dunhill Links Championship title in October, and I thought he was going to win it, but it was another performance which goes to show just how good he is.

It was one of the most exciting finishes to tournament I have seen for years and the 26-year-old will be disappointed with how it ended; he just pushed his second shot at the last a fraction and caught a difficult lie, ultimately managing only a bogey.

But he didn’t do a lot wrong and he had shown great courage to card an eagle at the 15th. He should be pleased with his week’s work.

Congratulations must also go to home favourite George Coetzee for winning the Tshwane Open in Pretoria and England’s Meghan MacLaren for sealing her maiden Ladies European Tour title at the New South Wales Open.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam

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