Phil Mickelson, at 50 years of age, has become the oldest ever winner of a major as he put in an incredible performance to win the PGA Championship with a score of six under par. Before today, Julius Boros was the oldest golfer to win a major at 48 years, four months, 18 days old during the 1968 PGA Championship but the American Mickelson is approaching his 51st birthday on June 16.
With the alligators keeping a beady eye on proceedings at Kiawah Island, the longest course in major championship history, Mickelson clung on to win his second PGA Championship and his first major since 2013. He joined the greats of Lee Trevino and Nick Faldo on six major wins apiece and ended his eight year wait for a major title, when many thought his time had been and gone.
Louis Oosthuizen and 2018 and 2019 winner Brooks Koepka were in a position to challenge the experienced head but fell away when the pressure turned up on the back nine of the final round. That came after Mickelson had hit the defining shot of the Championship however, as he holed a sensational bunker shot on the fifth for a birdie.
Oosthuizen in particular, who held the joint lead with Mickelson after round three had a rollercoaster ride on a disappointing final day. The South African hit a seven on hole two and then hit a patch of wasteland of the 10th tee which set up back to back bogies on the 10th and 11th. Mickelson’s consistency seemed to force his rivals into mistakes.
However, in the back of his mind will have been the five shot lead that he let slip yesterday. He found the bunker and the water on the back nine yesterday and on 13, history repeated itself as he found the water yet again. Unlucky for some. He strolled from hole to hole and played the game at his own pace, but back to back bogies invited pressure and saw his lead cut to three.
Elsewhere the two Irishman Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry played some beautiful golf as they went round together, as they both scored -3 for the final round to finish tied third on two under, as Lowry said:
“Honestly, playing with Paddy today was one of the best rounds of golf I've ever had. It was so much fun...it was one of the best days I've had on the golf course. I played lovely golf again and I’m very happy going into my week off now.”
Rickie Fowler on one under achieved his first top 10 finish worldwide since January 2020 while Harry Higgs put in one of the most eye-catching displays in his first major at the age of 29, he finished alongside the Irish duo in joint third, after a final round of two under.
Meanwhile Koepka’s round got worse, especially on the par fives, as he hit four bogeys in seven holes while Oosthuizen birdied the 16th to bring him within two shots of the lead however Mickelson hit back with his own birdie on 15 to extend his lead to three. Koepka came back into it with some clever shots, but ultimately, this was all about one 50-year-old man.
Even in the most pressurised situations, Mickelson kept his composure. Oosthuizen finished on four under which just left the two Americans to finish off the tournament. Mickelson got onto the 18th with a two shot lead and played a beautiful shot from the rough onto the green where thousands of fans rushed to witness the historic moment.
As his short putt disappeared into the hole, the roar of the crowd was spine-tingling. A sound that we have all missed so much over the past year has never sounded so sweet, as they watched history unfold in front of their very eyes.
The headline maker, and the man who is ageing like a fine wine, is none other than history maker Phil Mickelson. 50 years old, the oldest major winner ever. What a performance.