The Golfers Who Could Roll Back The Years in 2022
Phil Mickelson effortlessly demonstrated that age was in fact just a number, as he brushed off a spirited Brooks Koepka to secure his sixth major championship at Kiawah Island in May 2021.
Since 1975, there have only been four cases of a golfer winning a PGA Tour event aged 50 or over, and no-one - prior to Mickelson - had managed to scoop one of the four major championships at this age.
But, if we’re being honest, Mickelson isn’t a ‘normal’ golfer. He continues to work as hard as he did in his twenties and if it wasn’t for a certain Tiger Woods, he would have several more majors to his name - having finished runner-up at the elusive U.S. Open on six occasions.
Nevertheless, his phenomenal accomplishment encouraged the thought: if Mickelson can do it, and prove to the golfing world that age is indeed just a number, why can’t other golfers follow suit?
As a consequence of that thought, we have compiled a list of seven golfers who are currently in their forties - not quite Mickelson territory - who could bring back the glory days in 2022.
Majors: 2 (Masters x2, 2012 & 2014)
Last Victory: Travelers Championship, 2018
Bubba Watson is the ultimate performer, shaping the ball 50 yards to the right or left is something that only a handful of golfers can achieve. When Watson is at his best, he is an unstoppable machine that oozes confidence. When he’s at his worst, he’s an unpredictable player who holds the capability of ruining his tournament in one single hole. Perhaps that’s the appeal of Watson as a golfer, you’ll never truly know what you’re going to get. His last victory coming in 2018 is unbelievable, it does not feel that long at all. Still, when you’re as characterful as Watson, your emotion and willingness to improve is never in question. There are two standout areas of improvement based on last season’s statistics, and that’s scoring average and sand save percentage - where he ranked 72nd and 186th. These are problems that need remedying rapidly if he is to secure more glory in 2022.
Last Victory: Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, 2020
If Westwood fails to win the opening DP World Tour event of the new season, it will have marked two years since his last triumph. If only we could roll the clock back to March 2021… sadly, that’s not possible. However, his consecutive performances in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship demonstrated that he is not quite done yet. To walk away from both of those events as runner-up would have sorely hurt, considering that he has only tasted victory twice in America - with the last one coming in 2010. Westwood is now 15 months away from being 50 and with each passing year, the dream of a major championship diminishes marginally. A counterargument is that you don’t win 25 times on the European Tour without being an outstanding golfer, and if he can obtain just one major championship, that’s surely the icing on what already is a sensational career.
Majors: 1 (The Open Championship, 2016)
Last Victory: Wyndham Championship, 2017
As Henrik Stenson lifted the Claret Jug after expertly fending off Phil Mickelson in the 2016 Open Championship, he could not have envisioned such a gloomy future. Since that iconic day, he has only won once and that took place in 2017. It’s difficult to determine where it all went wrong for Stenson, who has tumbled down the Official World Golf Rankings and currently stands at 184th. We are, however, discussing a golfer who has earned 25 professional victories, and that doesn’t happen to just anybody. Now, at the age of 45, Stenson may shortly be diverting his attention to the senior tours. Nevertheless, until that transition takes place, the Swede will be looking to secure further glory to augment his fine career.
Majors: 1 (U.S. Open, 2013)
Last Victory: Farmers Insurance Open, 2019
The 27th of January will mark three years without a single victory for Justin Rose, who has evidently lost his way over the last few seasons. There were a few notable highlights from last season, however. Finishing 7th at The Masters would typically be viewed as an excellent performance, but we must not forget that he held a four-stroke lead after the opening round. After a superb 65, three rounds of 72, 72 and 74 would follow which ruled him out of contention. He also finished T8th in the PGA Championship and T10th at the Wyndham Championship - but they were his only three top 10s on the PGA Tour last term. Consistency is difficult to deliver in professional sport, but that’s especially true for golf, where confidence is crucially needed - and the Englishman requires it in abundance. If he can return to the silky form we know he’s capable of, perhaps his twilight years may be the kindest of his career.
Last Victory: Omega Dubai Desert Classic, 2021
Paul Casey may not have won a major championship as of yet, but he has secured top 10 finishes in every single one - unfortunate or a lack of conviction? He is also the most recent winner on this list and he holds the highest Official World Golf Rankings standing. There’s a lot to like about Casey’s game and winning last season, from a quality field, further supports that argument. He may be 44 and enjoying the twilight period of his career, but he probably has the most to offer of all the golfers included here and another victory is surely not a question of if and more so when. Last season, Casey recorded seven top 10s on the PGA Tour, and these included T4th at the PGA Championship, T5th at the WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational and T5th at The Players Championship. He can compete with the best, but he seldom converts those important moments into big wins. The Englishman has quite the resume too, winning the aforementioned Dubai Desert Classic, the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and the BMW Championship previously. For the age of 44, Casey remains a serious contender in any tournament he enters, and there aren’t many 40-year-old or older golfers who can claim the same.
Majors: 1 (Masters, 2013)
Last Victory: Genesis Invitational, 2020
Adam Scott is one of the greatest golfers that Australia has ever produced, and that’s quite the compliment if we consider the vast number of quality golfers who have emerged from there. Although he went through 2021 without a victory, his latest triumph is the Genesis Invitational and that’s a tournament that the world’s best typically target, so it’s a win of great magnitude. His major record is also excellent, albeit only converting good positions into one victory. He’s finished 3rd and T3rd at the PGA Championship - 12 years apart from one another - T4th at the U.S. Open and runner-up at the 2012 Open Championship. Only two top 10s on the PGA Tour last season is well below his standards, although his T5th finish at this season’s CJ Cup already halves the previous tally. In total, he has recorded 39 professional wins - with 14 coming on the PGA Tour - and he’ll be looking to at least hit 40 to cement his name in golfing history.
Majors: 1 (Masters, 2017)
Last Victory: Sanderson Farms Championship, 2020
Sergio Garcia needs no introduction. They often say the most passionate of players come from Spain, and Garcia is an excellent example to use in favour of that argument. The man simply bleeds golf. His Masters triumph in 2017 pleased the entire golfing community as it was completely unacceptable for this modern great to go his entire career without a single major championship. The Spaniard recorded four top 10s on the PGA Tour last season, but considering he won the Sanderson Farms Championship in October 2020, he’d have been disappointed to not have pushed on further into the season. His major performances were mixed last term, missing the cut on two occasions and finishing T19th twice. His statistics from the previous season were predominantly good, but if there is one area he can improve, it’s driving distance - where he ranked 93rd on tour with a driving accuracy percentage of just 61.18%. If he can rein in the big stick, we could see more Spanish dominance - and not exclusively from Jon Rahm.
These seven golfers all share one thing in common: they are currently in their forties. Mickelson has helped prove that belonging to that age category does not necessarily indicate poorer performances.
Golf continues to push the boundaries and set new thresholds, and with the very first major champion of 50 or older being crowned last season, we’re sure there’s plenty of fight left in these golfers yet.
How do you think the golfers included will do this season? Have we missed out any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments.
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