Mickelson birdied the first playoff hole to beat Skip Kendall in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic on Sunday and end an 18-month winless streak.
'It's terrific. I can't wait to do it again. I want it next week,' said Mickelson, who had dropped from second to 16th in the world rankings. 'I just have so much fun when I'm playing well.
'Not having been there last year, I realize how much I missed it.'
The 2002 Hope champion, he rolled a 3-foot birdie putt into the center of the cup to win it again.
Kendall was left still looking for his first tour victory. He was runner-up for the fourth time in his career, losing three times in playoffs.
Mickelson, making his 2004 debut, closed with a 4-under 68 to match Kendall (65) at 30-under 330 in the 90-hole tournament.
After each birdied the final hole, they returned to the 18th tee to begin the playoff. Both hit their drives down the center, then Kendall pulled his second shot into the left rough beside the green on the 543-yard par 5. Mickelson's second shot went into the rough on the other side, but considerably closer to the hole.
Kendall chipped onto the putting surface, then missed his 20-foot birdie try. Mickelson's chip left him the short putt, and he confidently stroked it in to wrap up a day when he had some problems on the green.
The 39-year-old Kendall, 0-for-294 in tour events, said, 'I played my heart out. It's hard to take, but I'm glad I was there.
'I'm getting older, too, and I feel like I'm still progressing as a player. People sometimes ask me, 'Well, what's been your highlight in golf?' I say, 'Stay tuned.''
Jay Haas, 50, the 1988 tournament champion and runner-up to Mike Weir a year ago, finished third with a 67 that left him one shot behind Mickelson and Kendall.
Jonathan Kaye shot a 64 to finish fourth at 332.
Kirk Triplett, tied with Mickelson going into the final round and bogey-free in the tournament, had four bogeys and a double bogey in a 74 that left him six strokes back.
Kendall, playing in the group in front of Mickelson, and Mickelson matched similar birdies on No. 18 to force the playoff.
Both players hit their second shots about pin-high in the rough on the right adjacent to the green, then pitched within some 18 inches of the hole.
'When I made birdie, I realized that that was a pretty good spot to be, over there,' said Mickelson, whose second shot in the playoff was in almost the same spot. 'When Skip went to the left in the playoff, I knew he had a tough chip.'
Kendall, who had been the co-leader after the first round but hadn't been atop the leaderboard since, moved one shot ahead of Mickelson with a short birdie putt on No. 16 to go to 30 under, while Mickelson bogeyed No. 15.
Kendall gave it back on the next hole, when he missed a 10-foot par putt after pushing his tee shot to the right of the green.
After tinkering with his mechanics last year, Mickelson spent this winter trying to regain the form that had carried him to 21 victories and made him the world's second-ranked player.
That's 22 victories now, including an impressive 6-1 record in playoffs.
Divots: The win was the fourth of Mickelson's career in a season debut. He also won the 1991 Northern Telcom Open, as an amateur; the 1994 and 1998 Mercedes Championships, and the 2002 Hope to start off those years. ... Mickelson announced at the start of the tournament that he would donate $100 per birdie and $500 per eagle this year to a charity dedicated to funding college educations for children of military special operations personnel killed in operational or training missions. He had 37 birdies and no eagles in the Hope, so that's $3,700 for Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Mickelson made $810,000 by winning the Hope. ... The Hope becomes the only tournament to be won three years in a row by a left-hander -- Mickelson two years ago and Weir last year.
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