Phil Mickelson Makes Instant Impact on Champions Tour
FOR many of the world’s best golfers, turning 50 represents an opportunity to join the Champions Tour and make a fortune. Bernhard Langer, aged 63, has so far accumulated 41 victories and counting. He has won almost $30m in prize money since turning 50. He has also won 11 senior majors.
Colin Montgomerie was never able to win a major before turning 50 but that all changed when he joined the Champions Tour, a feat also achieved by Roger Chapman.
Phil Mickelson has just made his debut on the Champions Tour and managed to win on his first start. He not only won the Charles Schwab Series but, in the process, he equalled the scoring record for a 54-hole tournament with an astonishing total of 191. He finished with a five-under-par 66 for a 22-under-par total and a four-shot win ahead of Tim Petrovic.
He opened with a birdie and followed it with another at the fourth when he drove the green at the par and holed the putt for an eagle. Mickelson dropped a shot at the sixth but then made three consecutive birdies around the turn before dropping another shot at the 14th. He finished off the job with a tap-in par at the last.
“I wasn’t as sharp the back nine,” Mickelson said. “I got off to a good start, though, fortunately to build enough cushion. I really enjoyed seeing all the guys again, seeing how they were so accommodating and fun. It’s fun for me to compete. I got to shoot scores and compete. There was a lot of good,” he added, “and there were things I identified I’ve got to work on.”
Mickelson was only in the field because he missed the cut at the Northern Trust at TPC Boston, ensuring he would miss this week’s BMW Championship for the first time since the FedExCup Playoffs began in 2007.
He intends to carry on playing on the PGA Tour and hopes to emulate Fred Funk and Craig Stadler, both of whom won on the PGA Tour winning on the Champions Tour - and few would bet against him.
He is by no means the first golfer to win on his senior debut. In fact, he is the 20th. Here we look at the complete list, and it features some very famous names in what reads like a who’s who of golf.
- Don January, 1980 Atlantic City International (first tournament in Champions Tour history)
- Roberto De Vicenzo, 1980 U.S. Senior Open
- Arnold Palmer, 1980 PGA Seniors' Championship
- Rod Funseth, 1983 Hall of Fame Tournament
- Gary Player, 1985 Quadel Seniors Classic
- George Archer, 1989 Southwest Senior Classic
- Jack Nicklaus, 1990 The Tradition
- Bruce Fleisher, 1999 Royal Caribbean Classic
- Lanny Wadkins, 2000 The ACE Group Classic
- Bobby Wadkins, 2001 Lightpath Long Island Classic
- Mark McNulty, 2004 Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am
- Mark Wiebe, 2007 SAS Championship
- Tom Lehman, 2009 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (team event, partnered with Bernhard Langer)
- Michael Allen, 2009 Senior PGA Championship
- Tom Pernice, Jr., 2009 SAS Championship
- Rocco Mediate, 2013 Allianz Championship
- Jeff Maggert, 2014 Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic
- Miguel Angel Jimenez, 2014 Greater Gwinnett Championship
- Jim Furyk, 2020 The Ally Challenge
- Phil Mickelson, 2021 Charles Schwab Series
In the cases of Palmer and Nicklaus the debut victory came in a senior major. Others to achieve that feat are Roberto De Vicenzo and Michael Allen.
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