Doral, Fla. — With his best chance at winning a World Golf Championship title, Phil Mickelson broke into a cold sweat and couldn’t stop shaking. And this was 18 hours before his tee time.
Once he got onto the Blue Monster, Mickelson looked better than ever.
Weakened and dehydrated by a stomach virus that sent him to the hospital on the eve of the final round, Mickelson closed with seven straight pars for a 3-under 69 to win the CA Championship after a dynamic duel at Doral against Nick Watney.
“It took a lot out of me,” said Mickelson, who sipped on energy drinks throughout the round. “I haven’t eaten much in three days. I fought hard. I’ve been playing some of my best golf, and I’m very excited to have finished it off.”
No longer the best player without a World Golf Championship, Mickelson now can set his sights on No. 1 in the world.
His second victory in his last three starts moved him to No. 2 in the world, closer than he has ever been to Tiger Woods. Depending on how Woods fares at Bay Hill, Mickelson could have a chance to replace him when he next plays at the Shell Houston Open.
“He’s the greatest player of all time. I don’t want to go there with the world ranking,” Mickelson said. “What I’m excited about is I’m playing some of my best golf.”
He finished at 19-under 269 and earned $1.4 million, the biggest check of his career.
This one-shot victory might have been as impressive as any.
Mickelson had to conserve all his energy for every shot. Watney made sure every shot mattered. There already were seven lead changes when they walked off the 11th green, and then they matched scores the rest of the way.