Mickelson fends off Els to win HSBC Champions

Shanghai, China (Sports Network) - Phil Mickelson closed with a three-under 69 Sunday to hold off Ernie Els and win the World Golf Championships - HSBC Champions.

Mickelson, who also won this title in 2007, completed the event at 17-under- par 271. It was Mickelson's second WGC victory of the season.

"It was an interesting final round. I had to kind of gut this one out," admitted Mickelson. "The ball wasn't going in the hole. I was hitting good putts and they wouldn't fall. I'd make a couple mistakes ball-striking and yet I fought hard just to stay in it."

Els took the lead with a birdie on the 17th, but found water with his second at the last. That led to a closing bogey, which left Els at 16-under-par 272 after a course-record-tying nine-under 63.

Ryan Moore posted a four-under 68 on Sunday to take third at minus-15.

Tiger Woods struggled throughout the round. He was four-over through eight holes, but fought back with five birdies over a seven-hole stretch from the ninth.

The rally got Woods within three strokes of the lead, but he ran out of holes. After a pair of pars, he closed with a bogey to post even-par 72. He ended in a tie for sixth at 12-under-par 276.

There were plenty of twists and turns throughout the final round at Sheshan International Golf Club.

Starting out, Mickelson pushed his lead to three with a birdie on the third. However, he bogeyed the next two holes as his lead dipped to one.

Moore caught him in the lead with a birdie on the seventh, but Mickelson responded with a birdie on the same hole. Mickelson parred five in a row from the eighth and that started a back-and-forth with Els and Moore.

At the 11th, Moore sank a seven-footer for birdie to join Mickelson at 14- under. Moore gave that stroke back on 13 and never shared the lead again, but was never more than two back the rest of the way.

Els poured in a long birdie effort on the 11th to tie Mickelson at minus-14. After a pair of pars, Els briefly grabbed his first solo lead with a four- footer for birdie on 14.

Mickelson responded in fine fashion. He birdied the 13th from just over 15 feet, then two-putted for birdie from a similar length on 14th to get to 16- under.

Els had an answer of his own. He knocked in a four-footer for birdie on 16 and stuffed his tee shot within three feet at the 17th. The South African converted that to grab the lead at minus-17.

While the was happening, Mickelson tried to play a flop shot from left of the 16th green. He went right under the ball on the first try and left his ball in the same spot. He pitched to about 16 feet and drained the par-saving putt.

"I needed to make a birdie to get even with Ernie. I hit a three-wood left of the green and had a tough little flop shot with a downhill lie and the ball sitting up," explained Mickelson. "I tried to flop it up there and went right underneath it.

"The putt I made for par was one of the best putts I've made in a long time. It had a lot of break off the knoll from the bunker and I had to let it feed in the side door. When I made that putt, I knew I had a chance."

At the last, Els hit a poor second shot into the water short of the green. After taking his drop, Els knocked his fourth to 20 feet and two-putted for bogey from there.

"I really had a really good time. Today was a wonderful day. I knew the pressure was on. For me, this was great preparation for the weeks to come," Els stated. "On 18, I hit a beautiful tee shot, but was on a severe down slope and was in between clubs. I tried to hit a five-wood left and play a big cut, but because of the lie I hit the ground first and basically duffed it. I'm disappointed about that, but I'm going to think about the 63 I shot."

Now tied for the lead, Mickelson hit his tee shot to nine feet on the 17th. He ran that putt in for birdie and a one-stroke lead.

"I left that one right where I needed to," said Mickelson of his second shot to the 17th. "Even though it had a lot of right-to-left break, it was uphill and I could be fairly aggressive with it."

Mickelson played safely at the last. He hit three-wood off the tee into the rough, laid up in the left rough, then played his third safely onto the putting surface. He calmly two-putted for par and the title.

Rory McIlroy matched Els' 63 to finish alone in fourth at 14-under-par 274. Nick Watney, who played in the final group with Woods and Mickelson, closed with a one-under 71 to take fifth at minus-13.

Woods shared sixth place with Martin Kaymer (67).

Lee Westwood, who leads the Race to Dubai standings on the European Tour, shot 71 to end alongside Alvaro Quiros (66) in eighth at 11-under-par 277.

Daisuke Maruyama also fired a 63 in the final round to end in a tie for 10th.

Paul Casey, who was fifth in the Race to Dubai standings, re-injured his ribs early in the final round and withdrew from the tournament.

11/08 03:35:53 ET

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