Phil Mickelson rewrote golf history on Sunday as he got his hands on the coveted Wanamaker Trophy, becoming the oldest winner of a major tournament, with victory at the 2021 PGA Championship.
The visual of a sea of euphoric fans back on a Golf course was reminiscent of Tiger Woods’ comeback win in 2019, so it was perhaps fitting that the man who has played second fiddle to Tiger for years, was the recipient of a roaring reception as he made his way to his 6th Major Championship. This was a piece of glory for the ages in the world of Golf, from a man who has remained a crowd favourite across the globe.
50 years, 11 months and 3 days old.
Ranked 115th in the world.
No Top 10 finishes in his last 16 starts.
But Phil Mickelson is a Major Champion again!
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Phil held a one-shot lead coming into the final round and the Mickelson magic emerged as he chipped in from the bunker on the par-3 fifth hole, sending the crowd into raptures and giving him further belief, that history could be in the making. Amazing scenes were witnessed on the final hole, with Lefty surrounded and mobbed by thousands of fans as he two-putted his name into the history books and became just the fourth golfer in PGA Tour history to win a tournament in four different decades.
“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 inspirational,” he said post his record-breaking win.
“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.”
For a man whose career has on-and-off looked like it could dwindle into obscurity, Phil now surpasses the great Seve Ballesteros and moves to tied-12th on the all-time major winners list, only one shy of Arnold Palmer. At times, it’s hard not to wonder how many more major championship wins Mickelson might have if not for Tiger Woods’ role as his foil and his age-old rival was one of the first to pay tribute to the history-making win, “Truly inspirational to see @PhilMickelson do it again at 50 years of age. Congrats!!!!!!!” Woods tweeted. It was the first time in Mickelson’s Major victories, that Tiger Woods was not part of the field.
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Co-incidentally, the previous oldest winner of a major, Julius Boros, won the same event at the age of 48, 53 years ago, while golf legend, Jack Nicklaus won his last major at 46. Mickelson now aged 50, held off charges from Brooks Koepka and also Louis Oosthuizen in the final round to win the Wanamaker Trophy 16 years after his first success at the PGA Championship. Mickelson not only jumps from outside the world’s top 100 to world No 32 with this win but also secured a five-year exemption to The Masters, The Open and the US Open. It was Lefty’s first major title since The Open in 2013 and his first PGA Tour title since the 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and a comeback story that was even more complete with the presence of his brother, Tim, as caddie on the bag this week.
The magic, flair and brilliance was back and Legendary Golf broadcaster Jim Nantz summed it up perfectly as Lefty’s final putt dropped at Kiawah Island – “Phil defeats Father Time”.