golf mexico finals

India had pinned its hopes on 21-year-old golfer Shubhankar Sharma, who tied for 9th place March 4 in the World Golf Championships. (Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS photo)

MEXICO CITY — Young Indian golfer and overnight leader Shubhankar Sharma stumbled in the fourth and final round and carded a three-over 74 to finish tied ninth in the $10 million World Golf Championships-Mexico here March 4.

The 21-year-old, who held a two-stroke lead coming into Sunday's final round, bogeyed five holes on the fifth, 13th, 14th, 17th, 18th as he birdied the 12th and 16th holes for a 74 at the Club de Golf Chapultepec.

World No.75 Shubhankar, making his debut appearance in the World Golf Championships, was short on experience and that finally took a toll on him as he went through a tough back-nine.

Shubhankar rued his luck on the tricky putting greens at Chapultepec. "I just felt like nothing went in. Maybe my speed was wrong, something was off. Even on nine, I hit it in the middle of the hole it lipped out again. I never felt like I could get the speed right or maybe the line, it just wasn't going in, it wasn't my day," he said in an Asian Tour release.

But he was happy with his show during the week. "It was my first time in Mexico, my first WGC and I'm really happy. A little bit disappointed, I was leading and I think I couldn't finish it off today. But that's what the game is about. And what I learned today, especially playing with (winner) Phil (Mickelson) I'll cherish it forever.”

"Just playing with him has been fantastic. He's obviously a great man, showed me a few great shots. He's not afraid to go out there and get it out there and hit it at the pin, and he took some crazy clubs off the tee but that's what Phil is all about. I'll never forget it. Especially on 16 where he made birdie, it was the loudest roar I ever heard in life. It was fantastic," said Shubhankar.

Shubhankar's four-day total of 10-under 274 (65-66-69-74) was six shots behind world No.34 Phil Mickelson (five-under 66) and No.3 Justin Thomas (64) after 72 holes of regulation play.

The American pair took the game to the play-off where five-time major winner Mickelson prevailed after playing a par effort on the par-three 17th hole, while Thomas missed the putt for the par. Thomas hit his tee shot slightly past the green, chunking his chip shot and missing a long par putt.

Tyrrell Hatton and Rafa Cabrera Bello scored 67 each in the final round to finish tied third with identical totals of 15-under 269.

Thomas stood at just even par through two rounds but he stormed back on the weekend to post rounds of 62 and 64 and nearly win the event.

The world No. 2 also hit one of the shots of the tournament when he holed his approach shot for an eagle on the par-4 18th hole to give himself the clubhouse lead on Sunday.

Left-hander Mickelson, 47, earned $1.7 million in prize money, an exemption onto the PGA Tour through the 2020-21 season, and 550 FedExCup points. Apart from this, he will also get an automatic berth in almost every major championship including The Players Championship this season.

Mickelson, who won a title after British Open triumph in 2013, said: "It's been a tough go the last four years. Not playing my best but to have the belief that I was going to get there and finally break through and do it, feels incredible. I believe that more is to come."

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