Phil Mickelson feels pretty confident about his game heading into the Masters.
The defending champion at Augusta outdueled Scott Verplank on Sunday to win the Houston Open by three shots in Humble, Texas. It was his first victory since earning his third green jacket last April.
And it comes with a notable distinction.
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 ranking since the week before Woods won the 1997 Masters for his first major championship.
“It feels really good for me to have played well and gained some momentum heading into next week,” Mickelson said. “I needed to have a week where I kind of put it together.”
The 40-year-old Mickelson shot a 7-under 65, the lowest closing score by a winner this year, to finish at 20 under.
Tour rookie and second-round leader Chris Kirk (67) tied Verplank (68) at 17 under.
MAJOR AMERICAN WIN
Stacy Lewis held off defending champion Yani Tseng to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship by three strokes, 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 in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
She punctuated a tenacious back nine in gusty wind at Mission Hills with an improbable 20-foot par putt from the fringe on the 17th hole, essentially finishing off her inconsistent opponent.
“I can’t even believe it,” Lewis said. “ I just couldn’t believe I made it (on the 17th hole). I thought I had a good shot from there, but I just tried to stay calm.”
Lewis and her family took the Kraft Nabisco’s traditional winner’s leap into Poppie’s Pond off the 18th green, holding hands while running to the water. Lewis and her caddie did modified cannonballs — but Lewis’ mother, Carol, badly injured her left leg on the leap and was taken to a hospital in an ambulance.
Lewis’ grandfather, Al, died Wednesday, but her family agreed she should play.
Tseng, who was bidding for her fifth worldwide win this year, shot a 74 with four bogeys.
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 over Nick Price, David Frost and Jeff Sluman in Saucier, Miss. England’s David Horsey won the Trophee Hassan II in Agadir, Morocco, for his second European Tour title, making a hole-in-one on the second hole and winning with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff over Rhys Davies of Wales and Jaco Van Zyl of the Netherlands.