The Masters 2024: Remembering Phil Mickelson's Historic Major Win At 50

Mickelson was a champ in 2004 and won a sixth major at 50
14:41, 11 Apr 2024

Phil Mickelson wasn't always a divisive figure in a civil-war-ravaged sport. It was on this day in 2004 that he finally won his first major to great acclaim, edging out Ernie Els to triumph in The Masters. It was to be the first of six titles so far, with the most recent coming at the age of 50 in an incredible weekend at the PGA Championship in 2021.

Mickelson became the oldest ever winner of a major at Kiawah Island with a score of six under par. Before that day, Julius Boros was the oldest golfer to win a major at 48 years, four months, 18 days old at the 1968 PGA Championship. With the alligators keeping a beady eye on proceedings at 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 on 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 the previous day. Then, he had found the bunker and the water on the back nine 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 Irishmen Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry played some beautiful golf as they went round together, both scoring -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 was one of the best days I've had on the golf course. I played lovely golf again.”


On one under, Rickie Fowler 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, finishing 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. But 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 had been missing from golf and many other sports over the previous year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And as the crowd watched history unfold in front of their very eyes, the cacophony of noise was all the more sweet. 

Rancour, of course, would follow after his decision to defect to the LIV Golf tour, but on that perfect afternoon in 2021 the sporting world revolved around 50-year-old Phil Mickelson.

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