HUMBLE, Texas — Phil Mickelson outdueled Scott Verplank on Sunday to win the Houston Open, his first victory since last year’s Masters.
The win moved Mickelson’s world ranking to No. 3, while Tiger Woods dropped to No. 7. It’s the first time Mickelson has been ahead of Woods in the rankings since the week before Woods won the 1997 Masters for his first major championship.
Mickelson shot a 65 in the final round to finish 20-under par, three ahead of Verplank (68) and second-round leader Chris Kirk (67).
Mickelson is hoping he can repeat some history at Augusta this week. He’s the last player to win the week prior to a Masters victory, capturing the BellSouth Classic in 2006 before earning his second green jacket. The Houston Open became the run-up event to Augusta in 2007.
Mickelson won for the fifth straight time when he’s shot 63 or better in at least one of the rounds. He tied the course record with a 63 on Saturday, his lowest round in two years.
The victory has an emotional tug for Mickelson. Dr. Tom Buchholz, a radiation oncologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, has been treating Mickelson’s wife and mother, Amy and Mary, who were both diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009.
Buchholz and about 30 members of his staff were in the gallery all weekend, and Mickelson gave Buchholz the flag from the 18th hole after his round.
“Houston has become a special place for Phil and Amy,” Buchholz said. “They’re two fantastic individuals, and it’s truly been a privilege to have become part of their lives. Tremendously meaningful to me, to be part of this story.”
Last year, Mickelson was out of contention on Sunday and pulled Buchholz, a former caddie, out of the crowd to carry his bag for three holes.
Brandt Jobe hit a hole-in-one on the 174-yard seventh hole, the 10th ace on tour this year.
Lewis wins her 1st LPGA title
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Stacy Lewis held off defending champion Yani Tseng to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship by three strokes Sunday, earning her first LPGA Tour title in the year’s first major.
Lewis shot a 3-under 69 to finish at 13-under 275, rallying from an early two-stroke deficit while going head-to-head with the world’s top-ranked player.
She punctuated a tenacious back nine at Mission Hills with an improbable par putt from the fringe on the 17th hole, prompting a celebration in the raucous gallery.
Tseng shot a 74 with four bogeys, losing focus in her quest for her fifth worldwide title already this year. Lewis bogeyed the 15th hole to allow Tseng to pull within one stroke, but Tseng bogeyed the next two holes.
Lehman wins in Champions
SAUCIER, Miss. — Tom Lehman won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic for his second Champions Tour victory of the season, closing with a 3-under 69 for a four-stroke victory.
Lehman, the Allianz Championship winner in February, finished at 16-under 200 at Fallen Oak. He opened with a 67 and shot a course-record 64 on Friday. Nick Price (67), David Frost (69) and Jeff Sluman (72) tied for second.
Horsey prevails in European Tour
AGADIR, Morocco — England’s David Horsey won the Trophee Hassan II for his second European Tour title, making a hole-in-one and winning with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff.
Horsey closed with a 3-under 69, acing the par-3 second, to match Wales’ Rhys Davies (69) and Dutchman Jaco Van Zyl (68) at 13-under 274.