The American proves he still has the magic, claiming an historic sixth Major at the 2021 US PGA Championship in Florida. Here are six things to know about the oldest men's major winner.
It ain't over 'til it's over, and for Phil Mickelson it feels far from over: At the age of 50 he won his sixth major by claiming the 2021 US PGA Championship title on Sunday (23 May) to roll back the years for one of the most iconic players ever to pick up a golf club.
It made him the oldest men's Major winner in history.
Mickelson finished on six under, shooting a 73 on the final day, to finish two shots ahead of Louis Oosthuizen and Brooks Koepka who chased him all the way but fell short.
It's a win that lifts Mickelson to 45 event wins on the PGA Tour, a sixth Major triumph, and a second PGA champs to stack on top of his 2005 victory.
It also means that 'ol 'Lefty' fells a record held for 53 years by Julius Boros who was 48 when he won the 1968 version in Pecan Valley, San Antonio, Texas.
And having recently reinvented himself physically and mentally, the American is not planning to stop anytime soon.
"Show these kids how it's done," someone shouted to Mickelson on the opening holes on Sunday. And then he did.
With the energy of a crowd back watching live golf, it became the Phil Mickelson show.
A gorgeous bunker shot on the fifth that rolled in, the kind of gift that Mickelson has been giving the sport for three decades, trademark control and audacity around the green that has brought the game to life.
When he followed a superb approach shot with a delicious roll-in for a birdie on the 10th, the roar from the crowd was almost deafening. Koepka subsequently missed his putt, and Mickelson went three ahead.
At the final hole, chaos broke out, hundreds of people racing to say they were there, Mickelson surrounded by an adoring crowd, scantily protected by a few stewards.
But while all those around him were losing their heads, Mickelson kept his, an imperfect but composed back nine, seeing it through, not letting all the noise get to him, just playing his own game as he's done for generations.
The rewards are mighty and he can enjoy every minute, but some are asking, could we see him play at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on the Kasumigaseki Country Club in 2021?
It's not impossible, but right now he's not one of the top four American men in the world rankings, and it does look likelier that he represents the USA at the Ryder Cup this year. If he keeps this form up and rises up through the rankings once more, he could be in contention for Paris 2024 or LA 2028.
Here are six things to know about the magician Phil Mickelson:
He's been playing this game for a long time. He was 18 months old in 1971, Nixon was the U.S. President, the Bee Gees, Donny Osmond, and Rod Stewart were all in the top ten.
Born into a family of golf lovers, a young Philip Mickelson had a golf club in his hands before he could even walk. His grandfather Alfred Santos (Alfred is also Phil's middle name) was a caddie at Pebble Beach Golf Links and took Phil golfing as a child.
But he didn't have to go far to practice. They had a short-game setup in the back garden where he could spend hours chipping, cutting, putting, repeating.
No wonder his green play got so good so fast.
Dad was Phil's first coach, and because he was a commercial pilot, father and son were able to spend a lot of time together on the golf course building young Phil's game up. He was a capable golfer before he even started school.
The hours and hours spent in their practice area in their San Diego backyard helped form and culture arguably the softest hands golf has ever seen.
Mickelson has described his father as a 'man of few words' and clearly a huge influence on Mickelson's life, the pro golf star is now an avid pilot, following in the footsteps of his father who was a Navy aviator.
His father was a man of action, and Phil tells a hilarious story about his father on Halloween one year.
On his legendary Phireside with Phil chat he had dad on, tried to get dad to tell one of his favourite stories, and when dad refused, Phil just told it for him.
It goes that one night when Phil and his sister, PGA pro Tina Mickelson, were 4 and 6 years old, they went to their dad and asked if they could eat some of the Halloween goodies they'd gathered from their long walk around the neighbourhood.
When dad said no to some candy before dinner, bro and sis crept upstairs and tucked in anyway.
“My dad came up and knew exactly what we were doing," tells Mickelson, "caught us and took all the candy and burned it right here in this fireplace,” Mickelson says straight down the camera.
Might explain some of Phil's more fiery moments on the course.
The man nicknamed ‘Lefty’ is actually right handed, and the only thing he does left-handed is play golf.
“When he was not quite 2, he used to come down the stairs, arms full of balls, and a club,” his mother Mary told the LA Times.
“He had so many balls in his arms that they would go bouncing down the stairs. We all laughed and thought it was cute. But we figured he’d eventually get bored with it.”
Little Phil copied dad's leftie swing from when he was a toddler.
“We didn’t realize it at the time, and when we did, we tried to teach him to swing right-handed but it was too late,” Mary continues. “He had such a natural swing, even at that age.”
In March 2021 Mickelson talked about his swing, joking with Tron Carter that:
"When I started playing I felt the game was a little too easy righty and I wanted to make it more challenging so I started playing left-handed and it's fun for me now to go back and to see just how easy the game is right handed and how much easier it could have been had I stayed right-handed."
On a serious note, he actually does think certain things are easier playing left-handed if you're a rightie.
"I actually think it is easier to play golf left-handed if you are right-handed at everything else," he added.
"Especially short game where you're creating a slice back-hand, it's much easier to chip when your dominant hand is leading the stroke, rather than trying to roll it over."
Learning the game backwards worked for Mickelson, and by the time he reached college he was an accomplished golfer, Arizona State’s best player leading the team with a 72.14 stroke average.
He finished top 10 in 14 tournaments, claiming three victories, and won the NCAA championships as a freshman, following the likes of Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, and Billy Ray Brown.
Winning the US Amateur and the NCAA Championship in the same years puts him in truly exalted company, the only others to do that are Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Bryson Dechambeau, and Ryan Moore.
With 45 PGA Tour titles and six Majors, the only golfer to spend more than a quarter century consecutively inside the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking, how has Phil Mickelson never been World No.1?
Golf's unsolved mystery.
For the best part of 20 years Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson slugged it out for top honours and still rank one-two for most major tournament wins among active golfers.
Despite a relationship of intense rivalry during the 90's and into the noughties, they now get along great and can laugh about the past.
Both have been elected into the Golf Hall of Fame, their achievements in the game taking on legendary status.
But that doesn't mean they didn't have some fun and troll each other.
Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press tells a story that when Woods and Mickelson played a practice round together at the 1998 Nissan Open, they had a friendly bet that 'Lefty' won.
Not satisfied with just winning, Mickelson photocopied Woods' bank notes and left the copies in Tiger's locker saying:
"Just wanted you to know Benji [Benjamin Franklin] and his friends are very happy in their new home."
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