With his victory at the 2021 PGA Championship on Sunday, Phil Mickelson made golf history by becoming the oldest winner of a major tournament.
Following an excellent final round performance, he finished two shots ahead of Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, finishing six-under for the tournament.
Mickelson broke the record previously held by Julius Boros, who won the PGA Championship at the age of 48 in 1968.
Mickelson has now won six major championships in his long and illustrious career, the most recent being the PGA Championship in 2005, which he won 16 years ago.
Mickelson was able to complete a remarkable comeback story with the help of his brother, Tim, as his caddie, one that he hopes will inspire others.
“This is just an incredible feeling because I just believed that it was possible but yet everything was saying it wasn’t. I hope that others find that inspiration,” he said in his post-round conference.
“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, and I’m so appreciative to be holding this Wanamaker Trophy.”
The competition tightened even more in the early holes of Sunday’s round, with Mickelson just a shot ahead of Koepka heading into the final day.
And a bogey by Mickelson and a birdie by Koepka on the first hole tied the scores, leaving 17 holes between them and the prestigious Wanamaker Trophy.
During the first four holes, the pair traded birdies, pars, bogeys, and the occasional double bogey, with little to separate them.
On the par-three fifth hole, however, the Mickelson magic that fans have come to love over the course of his career really began to show.
The American golfer chipped into the hole in a bunker off his tee shot, sending the onlookers into rapture and giving them reason to believe that history was being made.
Mickelson’s resolve seemed to strengthen after a bogey on the sixth, and he appeared to be having the time of his life.
While Koepka’s confidence dwindled hole by hole, Mickelson continued to improve, birdieing two and parring the next six holes.
Mickelson had one more heart-in-mouth moment when his second shot on the 13th hole sailed into the water. However, Koepka was not made to pay the price after a few errant shots, as both players bogeyed the hole.
Mickelson’s tee shot on the next hole left him with a tricky chip onto the green. And it cost him, as he made a string of bogeys, closing the gap on Oosthuizen to just three strokes.
And just when the pressure was on — Oosthuizen’s birdie cut the lead to two shots in the group ahead — Mickelson hit a 366-yard drive on the 16th hole, the longest drive on the hole by any player all week.
It resulted in a crucial birdie, extending his lead to three shots, which was nervously cut to two shots moments later.
Mickelson, surrounded by thousands of fans and bathed in sunlight, two-putted his name into the history books in an incredible scene on the 18th hole.
Struggles with his putter were the deciding factor in Koepka’s failure to win his third PGA Championship title in four years.
Despite pushing Mickelson all the way, the four-time major champion described himself as “super disappointed” and “pretty bummed” after the final round.
“I’m not happy. I don’t know if there’s a right word I can say on here without getting fined, but it hurts a little bit,” he told the media in his post-round press conference.
“It’s one of those things where I just never felt comfortable over the putts. I don’t know why, what happened.”
Many people are already reacting to Mickelson’s victory — and his age.
Tiger Woods, who has won 15 major championships, paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “It’s truly inspiring to see Phil Mickelson do it all over again at the age of 50. Congratulations!!!!!!!”
After winning the PGA Championship, Mickelson was awarded the Wanamaker Trophy.
After winning the PGA Championship, Mickelson was awarded the Wanamaker Trophy. Mickelson was most likely not among the favorites to win the PGA Championship heading into the tournament.
He was among the leaders after the first round, just three shots behind Corey Conners at the top. But he made strides after that, finishing first on Friday and Saturday.
He breaks Boros’ record of 48 years, 4 months, and 18 days as the oldest major winner in golf history by winning at the age of 50. At the age of 46, golf legend Jack Nicklaus won his final major championship.
After winning the PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson celebrates. After winning the PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson celebrates.
He’d only won twice on the PGA Tour since his last major victory in 2013, as well as two times on the PGA Tour Champions in 2020, before Sunday’s victory.
Mickelson’s victory made him the fourth golfer in PGA Tour history to win in four decades. He’ll be in the company of Sam Snead, Raymond Floyd, and Davis Love III.
Mickelson’s brother Tim, who Phil credited with helping him have fun this week, said keeping him relaxed was key to his success after his record-breaking achievement.
“I just told him to stop thinking so much. When he would get ahead of himself, I reminded him, “Hey, we’ll worry about that when we get there,'” he said in his press conference. “A few stories here and there. Maybe one or two might have been made up, who knows? But anything I can do to keep his mind off of the shot that’s coming up when it’s not even our turn to hit.”