When Phil Mickelson Proved That Age is Just a Number
IT DEFINITELY wasn’t meant to happen. Kiawah Island is one of the toughest golf courses on the other side of the pond, a brutal layout that demands accuracy from the tee.
So when it came to predicting possible winners of the 2021 PGA Championship, one name that did not feature on any list was Phil Mickelson.
But at 50 years of age, he became the oldest major winner of all time. And he did so in front of a passionate crowd who mobbed him as he played the final hole.
Nothing will surpass Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters triumph but Mickelson ran him close. A second success at the PGA meant Mickelson had won his sixth major, eight years after claiming his fifth, The Open at Muirfield.
“I just believed that it was possible but yet everything was saying it wasn’t,” Mickelson said. “I hope that others find that inspiration. It might take a little extra work, a little bit harder effort to maintain physically or maintain the skills, but gosh, is it worth it in the end.
“I just love this game of golf. I love what I do and I love the challenge of competing against such great players.”
Much has happened in Mickelson’s life in the interim, of course, but 12 months ago he was walking on air.
Brooks Koepka, Mickelson’s playing partner in the final round, stumbled to a 74. Mickelson’s margin of victory was two, at six under par, from Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen, after a 73.
Mickelson’s winning form came from nowhere. It had been months since his most recent top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.
Having started with a one-stroke lead, he trailed Koepka after a bogey against birdie at the first. Koepka found a horrible lie by the green at the second, which led to a double bogey. As Mickelson birdied, he now led by two. At the ffith, Mickelson holed a bunker shot for another birdie. Koepka dropped shots at the 10th and 11th, by which point Mickelson led by four.
Oosthuizen had emerged as the key threat until he found the water with his approach at the 13th.
By now, Mickelson was five in front. He found water at the 13th and dropped another stroke at the 14th, but was still three in front.
He parred the 15th, birdied the 16th, bogeyed the penultimate hole and eased to par at the last. Koepka, to his credit, finished strongly.
When Padraig Harrington chipped in for a birdie at the 14th, he was three under par and had an outside chance. Europe’s Ryder Cup captain would bogey the 15th, but a tie for fourth meant it was a good week for the old boys. Harrington turned 50 in August.
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