It’s not major season just yet, but we’ve already got a new candidate for tournament of the year — the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship.
Yet again, the world’s best golfers needed extra holes — or in this case, hole — to resolve their differences. Despite the insane heroics on 18 in regulation, Justin Thomas was unable to stop the surging Phil Mickelson.
Really — what didn’t the WGC-Mexico championship have? Young, unproven player making a run? Check. Phil Mickelson being quintessential Phil Mickelson? Check. The world’s best player not currently ranked No. 1 in the world making a Sunday charge? Check.
Short of seeing someone add a major title to their collection, the week South of the Boarder was everything a golf fan could want.
While Mickelson and Thomas stole the show, there were plenty of players whose fortunes fell somewhere between Lefty’s and Gavin Kyle Green.
Here’s a look at those who head back to Florida rejuvenated — and those who might still be drinking to forget:
Phil Mickelson — Finally! Phil Mickelson is back! As he — and I — have been declaring he would, the World Golf Hall of Famer has won again. Not only did Mickelson collect his first win since the 2013 Open Championship — he also added a couple “Phil-being-Phil” stories to the ether that shall be told and re-told for years to come. Mickelson played great all week, but his weekend 65-66 were vintage — and, perhaps, a shot across the bow for any one with designs on donning a green jacket a month from now. Don’t look now, but the career grand slam might actually be in his grasp.
Justin Thomas — Ho-hum, Justin Thomas finished runner-up on the PGA Tour. If you’re keeping track at home, Thomas hasn’t missed a cut since last July at the Open Championship — and has just one finish worse than T-28 in that span (T-47 at the BMW Championship) and five wins. Thomas has been getting his unfair share of shit in recent weeks for tossing a fan out of the Honda Classic, but stuff like that needs to be discarded — the fact of the matter is what JT is doing right now is the stuff of legend. Enjoy it — and enjoy him. He’s not a bad guy, despite what some would have you believe.
Shubhanker Sharma — The aforementioned young, unproven player at the WGC-Mexico Championship who made noise was Indian star Shubhanker Sharma. To be honest, it’s terribly unfair to list Shubhanker Sharma in this section because the kid was flat-brilliant. After opening with a 65 on Thursday, plugged along with rounds of 66 and 69 on Friday and Saturday en-route to a 54-hole lead and a spot in the final pairing with Phil Mickelson. Obviously, the nerves got to Sharma — none among us can blame him — and he stumbled to a Sunday-74. That said, for those who rolled the dice on the unknown this week got one hell of a bump in fantasy performance.
Pat Perez — The birthday boy, Pat Perez, had a hell of a first three days south of the boarder, only to fade on Sunday. After putting together rounds of 68-67-68, Perez found himself three shots off the lead entering the final round. Unfortunately for Perez — and those banking on his performance — he struggled late, finishing the week with an unimpressive 75. Surely, Perez will bounce back — he’s been more consistent in the last 18 months than ever before in his pro career. He’s fun to root for and generally reliable — great traits in a fantasy value pick.
John Rahm — Arguably the most disappointing fantasy performer last week was John Rahm. Obviously, Rahm has proven himself to be a fantasy stalwart and one to be trusted, but he never appeared comfortable over 72-holes in Mexico. After opening with a 67, Rahm failed to break 70 the next three rounds leading to a disappointing T-20 finish. Don’t be scared off — Rahm’s performance is an outlier, not a sign of things to come.
Matt Kuchar — Only five players had worse weeks in Mexico that Matt Kuchar — which was absolutely devastating for fantasy golfers everywhere. While it’s nothing to get too worried about, Kuchar’s performance at the WGC-Mexico Championship was a little disconcerting. Kuchar hasn’t really been himself in 2018, something that you and I need to be weary of. Kuchar is one of the best in the game without a major title and his favorite event is just over a month away. He’s going to need to show some improvement before I’m willing to take the action on him in Augusta.