Phil Mickelson Phil Mickelson wins PGA Tour's The Players Championship

Phil Mickelson's new relationship with swing coach Butch Harmon seems to have paid immediate dividends, as Mickelson used a solid, workman-like final round to win The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Mickelson used his second consecutive round of 69 to close out the event and take home the $1.62-million winner's paycheck.

"This was a great week to have the chance to spend each day with Butch, six days straight, to work on my game, to work on these changes, and consequently as the week wore on, I started to hit it better and better," Mickelson told reporters.

Mickelson's path to the title was cleared when third-round leader Sean O'Hair, down a shot and hoping to make a spectacular birdie on the famed No. 17 island hole, sailed two balls into the water and finished with a quadruple-bogey seven. O'Hair also bogeyed No. 18 to see his final score of 76 drop him all the way down to 11th place.

"You've got to make something happen," O'Hair said afterward. "I didn't bust my butt for four days to get second place. Obviously, I paid for it."

After opening with a pair of 73s, Sergio Garcia sizzled down the stretch, finishing with a 66 after carding a 67 on Thursday to give the Spaniard sole possession of second place.

"I felt comfortable all week with my swing. I felt like I was in a good rhythm, and it's a shame I think it's going to be just short," Garcia told reporters. "At least I gave myself a shot at it, and that's all I can ask for."

Stewart Cink (66) and Jose Maria Olazabal (67) shared third place at 8-under, while Argentinian Jose Coceres finished alone in fifth place, at 7-under.

World No. 1 Tiger Woods had his best round of the week after shooting a final round of 67, but still finished 11 shots off the pace after working himself to even par for the tournament and a 37th-place finish.

When it was over, Mickelson had his 31st career PGA Tour victory, and had settled snuggly behind Woods on the money list and FedEx Points list. And Lefty couldn't have sounded more pleased with his work with Harmon.

"That's what's most exciting is I feel like we're just getting started. This is only week No. 3. I feel like in three months how much am I going to progress? In three years where am I going to be?" Mickelson said. "I've seen an immediate difference in three weeks, and I can't wait for another three weeks to go by and start getting ready for the U.S. Open. And another three or four weeks to go by and get ready for the British. I'm really excited about the direction I'm headed."

May 14, 2007

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