Phil Mickelson cemented himself in professional golf history on May 23rd, 2021 after becoming the oldest player to win a PGA major event at 50 years and 11 months old. “Lefty” claimed his sixth major victory and his second PGA Championship win.
Mickelson finished the 2021 PGA Championship, which was hosted at The Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, at six under 282 strokes after finishing his Sunday round with a 73. Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen tied for second at four under par.
After hitting one of his tee shots into a bunker near the green on the fifth hole, a par three, Mickelson chipped in for an electrifying birdie, taking a two shot lead over Koepka. But Koepka stayed dialed in after a two-shot swing on the sixth hole when he birdied and Phil missed the green far right, tying for the lead again.
Phil has now won two PGA major events more than once (the other being the Masters three times). His first major victory was at the 2004 Masters, and his last major win was the 2013 Open Championship.
Mickelson became the 10th player to win majors in three different decades, joining the likes of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus on a legendary list of golfers.
Mickelson’s triumph at the 2021 PGA Championship broke Julius Boros’ 53 year record as golf’s oldest major winner. Boros was 48 years old when he won the 1968 PGA Championship hosted in San Antonio.
Despite his extensive experience in professional golf, Mickelson will likely never forget his walk to the 18th green during his Sunday round at this year’s PGA Championship. Instead of fans remaining behind the players and their caddies as they walk up the fairway, spectators ran ahead of Mickelson and Koepka and completely surrounded the players in a sea of chants and chaos.
"I had an experience on 18 that I've never had in the game of golf, being engulfed by fans walking up 18. And although it was a bit unnerving for a moment, it was awesome. And something I'll cherish," said Mickelson after his victory.
Between yells after every shot and swarms of patrons surrounding him nonstop, it would have been easy for “Lefty” to lose his concentration. However, Mickelson’s ability to tune out hectic surroundings and focus on playing the best golf possible was truly on display during his final round.
Although Mickelson has an impressive track record in PGA majors, the victory at 50 years old is arguably the greatest of his career. After an eight year drought from winning PGA majors, proving that he can still compete at the highest level of golf was a powerful statement.
Beyond Phil’s success in the PGA’s four major events, he has also had continued success in regular PGA Tour tournaments. With his win at the 2021 PGA Championship he became the first player in PGA Tour history to win tournaments 30 years apart. His first PGA Tour tournament win came in 1991 when he was a junior in college at Arizona State.
The 2021 PGA Championship boasted the largest crowd at a golfing event since the COVID-19 pandemic, with approximately 10,000 spectators in attendance according to the PGA.