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Mickelson wins Hope in playoff

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LA QUINTA, Calif. — A five-month layoff seemed to make Phil Mickelson even better.

Playing for the first time since last August, Mickelson birdied the final three holes of regulation Sunday, then nestled his 80-yard wedge shot next to the pin for another birdie to beat David Berganio Jr. on the first playoff hole in the Bob Hope Classic.

Mickelson shot an 8-under 64, capped by a brilliant flop shot that set up his birdie on No. 18, to finish at 30-under for the five-day tournament.

Berganio, who has not won on the PGA Tour, closed with a 66. He birdied two of the final three holes of regulation to force the playoff.

But, after Mickelson hit his second shot on the first extra hole, the par-5, 543-yard 18th on the Palmer Course at PGA West, Berganio hit his approach shot into the water in front of the green.

He then hit his fourth shot within 8 feet of the pin. But Mickelson, who hit his second shot out of the sand and into the middle of the fairway, then hit his third shot with perfect line and distance, leaving him only a tap-in.

The victory was the 20th for Mickelson, making him the 34th player in PGA Tour history to reach that plateau and securing a lifetime tour exemption. He is 5-1 in playoffs.

Briny Baird and Cameron Beckman tied for third at 28 under. Jerry Kelly, who won a week earlier in Hawaii, was fifth at 27 under.

Jay Haas, the 1988 Hope champion who had been in or near the lead much of this week, had a 74 to finish six strokes back at 336.

Mickelson won twice last year, was second behind Tiger Woods on the money list, and was in the top 10 in his final three events of the season before taking time off for the birth of his second daughter. He then extended his vacation from the tour, skipping this year's first two events.

Although he said he enjoyed spending time with his family, Mickelson also spent many hours on the driving range and putting green to keep his game sharp.

He took the Hope lead for first time when he rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to go to 7 under for the day and 29 under for the tournament. After the ball dropped in the cup, Mickelson smiled and tipped his cap to acknowledge the roar of the gallery.

Berganio's 66 included an eagle at No. 11 that started him on his way to a 31 on the last nine holes of regulation. The second-place finish is the best of his career. He tied for third last year in the Greater Hartford Open, two strokes behind Mickelson.

MASTERCARD CHAMPIONSHIP: At Kaupulehu-Kona, Hawaii, Tom Kite completed a wire-to-wire victory in the MasterCard Championship, shooting a 5-under 67 to beat John Jacobs by six strokes.

The 52-year-old Texan birdied seven of the final 15 holes to finish at 17-under 199 on the Hualalai course. Jacobs shot a 68, highlighted by a 189-yard shot for double-eagle on the par-5 10th.

Kite opened with a course-record 63 and added a 69 in difficult wind conditions Saturday to take a five-stroke lead into the final round of the Senior PGA Tour's season-opening event.