Phil Mickelson, 50, becomes oldest major winner in history with PGA Championship victory
Phil Mickelson’s long-time agent, Steve Loy, sent his client a text message Sunday morning that basically summed up the day.
“Phil, I’m getting too old for this, but you aren’t,” wrote Loy. “Let’s get it done.”
Mickelson, at 6-under par for the Championship, very much got it done. He won the 103rd PGA Championship by two shots and in the process made history at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
“It's very exciting because I've had a few breakthroughs on being able to stay more present, be able to stay more focused, and physically, I'm striking it and playing as well as I ever have but I haven't been able to see that clear picture,” said Mickelson.
“Although I believed it, until I actually did it, there was a lot of doubt, I'm sure.”
Mickelson, who now has two PGA Championships to his credit, became the oldest major champion in golf history Sunday. Julius Boros, who won the 1968 PGA Championship at 48 years old, saw his record supplanted by Mickelson – who turns 51 on June 16.
The final round of the 103rd PGA Championship got off to a roller coaster-type start, with Mickelson and Brooks Koepka – who he played with Sunday and who ended up tied for second - with multiple, multi-shot lead changes occurring throughout the front nine – including on the very first hole.
Mickelson made bogey while Koepka made birdie on the par-4 opener.
After some early back-and-forth with Koepka, Mickelson pitched in for birdie from a greenside sandy area on the fifth. It was an electric moment for both Mickelson and the crowd, but then he bogeyed the very next hole – before added a birdie on the hole after that.
“Certainly, it was a momentum builder,” said Mickelson of his hole-out on No. 5. “It was a little bit early in the round to start jumping ahead because, you know, so much can happen. It was only the fifth hole but that was a big momentum thing.
“Biggest thing was getting it up-and-down. I just didn't want to throw away another shot and I had fought hard to keep the round in check and I was still 1-over through four. I just needed to get that up-and-down, and to have it go in was a bonus, but I knew I had a lot of work ahead.”
Mickelson shot even par on the front nine, but then birdied the 10th.
The 2005 PGA Champion, who won a major for the first time with his brother, Tim, as his caddie, bogeyed No’s 13 and 14 but settled in for a steady finish – after a start that was anything-but.
Mickelson said Tim, who won a major with his brother for the first time, was rock-solid for him all week long. Phil Mickelson admitted that he was making some uncommitted swings through the first six holes, and Tim Mickelson tried his best to his brother moving.
“He pulled me aside and said, ‘If you’re going to win this thing, you’re going to have to make committed golf swings,’” said Phil. “It hit me in the head.”
Mickelson added a birdie on the par-5 16th before scrambling for bogey at the 17th hole. He took a wild swipe with the driver on 18 into the crowd – as vocal as ever and which was allowed to walk the 18th fairway behind Mickelson as he walked to his ball – but dropped his approach on the green and two-putted from there.
“I've never had that experience, and to see that kind of -- to feel that kind of excitement and enthusiasm was -- and be at the forefront of that was pretty special,” said Mickelson. “That's a moment I'll always, always cherish.”
Tim Mickelson said his brother just always had this kind of fire, even at 50 years old, inside of him.
“You look at guys like Brooks (Koepka) who shines at the right moments, and I think the best players in the world, I think they all have that, and Phil has just carried that on for 35 years,” said Tim.
Regardless of the start, which got many viewers thinking of heartbroken years-gone-by, it was the finish that mattered.
Phil Mickelson, age 50, is a PGA Champion once again.
“There's no reason,” Mickelson said, “why the game of golf can't be the game for a lifetime.”