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AP photo by Ross D. Franklin / Bernhard Lange hits his tee shot on the eighth hole at Phoenix Country Club during the third round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on Saturday.

PHOENIX — Phil Mickelson stood on the 18th green at Phoenix Country Club, a wide smile across his face as he held yet another PGA Tour Champions trophy.

Next to him was 64-year-old Bernhard Langer, grinning just as broadly as he hoisted the Charles Schwab Cup trophy at an age when most golfers are playing from the front tee boxes, not fighting for professional championships.

One ceremony, two winners with vastly different styles.

Mickelson birdied three of the final holes Sunday to win the PGA Tour Champions' season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, and Langer held on to win his sixth season points title on the 50-and-older circuit.

"It's so fun for us to come back and play in front of everyone, and then to come out on top here was a special week," said Mickelson, 51, who played at nearby Arizona State University in the early 1990s. "I want to congratulate Bernhard because he really is the gold standard for work ethic, discipline as well as talent and a great golf game. At 64, to win the season-long championship, that's pretty impressive, pretty inspiring."

For Mickelson, it's always been about flash and creativity, pulling off shots few others would consider attempting. He did it through six major titles — the most recent earlier this year — and 45 PGA Tour victories, and he has kept it going on the senior circuit.

Mickelson was at his creative best at Phoenix Country Club, shooting a bogey-free 6-under-par 65 in the final round to join Jack Nicklaus as the only player to win four of his first six starts on the senior tour. Lefty showed off his short game to avoid bogeys and poured in six birdies in the final round, the last an up-and-down finish from short of the par-5 18th to reach 19-under 265.

Steven Alker closed with a 67 to finish second, one stroke back.

Langer made a name for himself with precision and toughness through a stellar career, winning the Masters twice and 64 times internationally. The German star became unstoppable once he turned 50, winning 11 major championships and 42 tournaments overall.

He had to lean on that toughness to get through four rounds at Phoenix Country Club. Langer nearly withdrew two holes into the tournament due to intense back pain but battled as the discomfort lessened slightly each day.

He labored through a 69 and finished at 12 under overall, but to see if he would win the Schwab Cup for the fifth time in seven years, Langer had to wait for Jim Furyk to finish. Furyk needed to win the tournament or tie for third and have Langer end up worse than eighth to win his first Champions title, but Furyk shot a 71 to tie for fifth at 16 under.

"I'm just overwhelmed, you know, at 64 to win this thing six times," said Langer, who finished 17th in the tournament. "It will probably be my last one, I'm almost sure of that, but it's very, very special."

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AP photo by Ross D. Franklin / Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot on the first hole at Phoenix Country Club during the third round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on Saturday.

Kokrak saved by Sunday putts

HOUSTON — Jason Kokrak had reason to believe he had shot himself out of the Houston Open on the back nine Saturday morning. He played it 10 shots better when it counted Sunday afternoon, making four straight birdies for a 5-under-par 65 and a two-shot victory.

Two strokes down with six holes to play, Kokrak delivered all the right shots to pull away from a fading Scottie Scheffler and Martin Trainer and win on the PGA Tour for the third time in 13 months.

"Very blessed to be standing here," said Kokrak, who went 232 starts before his first PGA Tour win.

The 36-year-old couldn't help but think back to Saturday morning, when he returned to complete the second round of the weather-delayed tournament and went the other direction. He played seven holes in 7 over for a 41 that left him 10 shots behind after 36 holes.

"I tried not to let that bug me," Kokrak said. "I knew I was playing some fairly good golf. I was playing really good in spots and really bad in spots, so I just tried to limit my mistakes and kind of plot my way around the golf course. I just tried to hit the green or give myself a putter in hand to limit my mistakes.

"So that was the club that really saved me this week."

Kokrak holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 13th to get in the mix Sunday, then made a 25-foot birdie putt on the 14th, the toughest hole at Memorial Park, to get within one. He hit a wedge on the 115-yard 15th with a front pin to six feet to tie for the lead.

He had enough mud on his golf ball from rain earlier in the tourney that he chose to lay up on the par-5 16th, even though he could have reached it with a mid-iron. Kokrak hit wedge to five feet for a fourth straight birdie.

By then, he was on his way and finished at 10-under 270.

Scheffler, going after his first PGA Tour victory, had a two-shot lead when he made the turn. He didn't hit a green in regulation until the 15th, making three soft bogeys that left him too far behind for a late run.

Scheffler had a long two-putt birdie on the 16th to get within three shots and nearly drove the green on the par-4 17th, only to hit a pedestrian chip and fail to make birdie. He birdied the final hole for a 69 and tied for second with Kevin Tway (68).

Trainer, who made only his ninth cut in 71 starts since his victory in the 2019 Puerto Rico Open, took the lead on the 11th hole by rolling in a 70-foot birdie across the green, and then he calmly saved par with an eight-foot putt. But he couldn't make up ground on the some of the scoring holes, took a bogey on the 14th and then fell back for good with bogeys on his last two holes for a 70.

Kramer Hickok (69) was fourth at 7 under, with Joel Dahmen (65) and Trainer another stroke back.

Luke List had the best finish among three Baylor School graduates in the tournament, tying for 11th at 4 under with a 71 that included a double bogey on the 18th. Stephan Jaeger (69) tied for 35th at 1 over, while Keith Mitchell (73) shared 41st and was another stroke back.

 

Korda stumbles, then steps up in playoff

BELLEAIR, Fla. — Nelly Korda made such a mess of the 17th hole that missing what amounted to a tap-in barely registered. She made a triple bogey, and part of her couldn't help but think she had thrown away her chances in the Pelican Women's Championship.

"I honestly lost hope," Korda said. "I was like, 'OK, just try to make a solid par' — 18 is a really tough hole — 'If you have a chance for birdie, then try and go after it.' My caddie really kept me in the moment, and I didn't give up.

"Thank God I didn't."

She birdied the 18th and got a second chance when Lexi Thompson had another late collapse, this time going bogey-bogey, that turned an epic duel between Korda and Thompson into a four-way playoff.

Korda ended it quickly, making a 12-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole at No. 18 to win for the fourth time this year on the LPGA Tour.

None were this wild.

Korda fell out of the lead on the 17th hole at Pelican Golf Club on Sunday by chopping her way to a triple bogey to fall two shots behind. She answered with an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 1-under 69 and got into a playoff when Thompson missed another par putt and shot a 69.

They were joined at 17-under 263 after 72 holes by reigning tourney champion Sei Young Kim (67) and Lydia Ko (66), neither of whom expected to be playing extra holes until Thompson and Korda imploded over the final two.

"It was a heated battle. I actually really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun," Korda said. "She played some solid golf. Unfortunate on 17, 18. Seventeen, there were a lot of spike marks around the hole, so I don't know if she hit one to three-putt. But that's how golf is sometimes.

"You're going to lose these, and sometimes you're going to win them."

The victory paid off handsomely for the 23-year-old American. She secured her spot at No. 1 in the women's world ranking and moved 12 points ahead of Jin Young Ko for LPGA player of the year going into the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship this week in Naples.

The field is made up of the top 60 in the Race to CME Globe standings, and a win for any of them — from Jin Young Ko at No. 1 to Wichanee Meechai at No. 60 — will secure the $1.5 million prize and the season title.

Korda now has five wins this year including her gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Thompson added to reputation of struggling to close out tournaments. She bogeyed the 17th, but still had a one-shot lead until making another bogey on the 18th. Korda made good on her second chance.

Afterward, Thompson took only one question and spoke about an "amazing week" with hospitality "like no other."

The 26-year-old now has gone 38 tournaments since her most recent of 11 LPGA Tour wins. At the U.S. Women's Open this year at Olympic Club, she lost a five-shot lead on the back nine and finished with two bogeys to miss the playoff by one shot.

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