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Never No. 1, Mickelson’s legacy will be longevity

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Among the congratulations that poured in for Phil Mickelson changing into the oldest main champion in golf was a video tweet from Jack Nicklaus, who continues to be good at math.

“You know, something sort of strikes me that 50 years old is older than 46,” Nicklaus stated with a smile. “Well done, my friend. Many more.”

Many extra? At age 50?

Mickelson performs a sport with which Nicklaus may not be acquainted, despite the fact that probably the most iconic of his 18 majors was Nicklaus successful the Masters at age 46.

During an interview on the finish of 2016, Nicklaus stated that sixth inexperienced jacket “was an accident in many ways.” He began to reduce his schedule after successful two majors in 1980. He gained twice extra earlier than the 1986 Masters, however he actually wasn’t taking part in a lot golf.

“It’s really difficult when you’ve had as much success as I had over a long period of time to charge your batteries, day after day, and go back out and say, ‘Man, I want to do this again,’” Nicklaus stated.

That’s the place Mickelson stands alone.

The record of 24 gamers who’ve reached No. 1 because the world rating started in 1986 doesn’t embody Mickelson, who’s extra completed than all however one in every of them. He has by no means gained a PGA Tour cash title. He has by no means been PGA Tour participant of the 12 months. He is just not among the many most elite group in golf with the profession Grand Slam.

Only a kind of can change. And even within the glow of his two-shot victory at Kiawah Island to win the PGA Championship, including the U.S. Open nonetheless looks as if a protracted shot.

That would stand as his best main. It may even prime Tiger Woods successful the Masters after overcoming 4 again surgical procedures that left him questioning if he might ever play once more.

What will not change no matter what Lefty does subsequent is his legacy of longevity. It would not sound all that sensational. But it’s.

Never thoughts Mickelson changing into the oldest participant to win a serious, breaking a report that had stood for 53 years.

Mickelson set one other report Sunday as the primary participant in PGA Tour historical past to go 30 years between victories. He gained his first when he was a junior at Arizona State. He gained his forty fifth when his daughter was a senior at Brown.

“He’s been on tour as long as I’ve been alive,” Jon Rahm stated. “For him to keep that willingness to play and compete and practice, even when it hasn’t been working, it’s truly admirable.”

From his first full season on the PGA Tour, Mickelson by no means completed decrease than sixtieth on the cash record. That was final 12 months, at age 49, throughout a season disrupted by the pandemic.

He made the Tour Championship 19 of his first 20 full seasons, the exception in 2003 when his spouse went by means of a scary and troublesome being pregnant that ended nicely with their third youngster.

As for staff competitions, Mickelson performed his first Presidents Cup in 1994 and was a part of each U.S. staff till the final one in 2019 at Royal Melbourne. He hasn’t missed a Ryder Cup since his 3-0 debut at Oak Hill in 1995.

Whether he’s at Whistling Straits in September is to be decided.

The final American to win a serious and be left off the Ryder Cup staff was Todd Hamilton, the British Open winner in 2004. The final American main winner left off any staff was Keegan Bradley, who gained the PGA Championship as a rookie in 2011. The remaining decide for the Presidents Cup went to Bill Haas, the FedEx Cup champion.

Neither was named Phil Mickelson.

Most outstanding about his longevity is that he stored working more durable at the same time as progress was troublesome to see.

Mickelson had gone greater than two years with out successful — besides for 2 instances he performed on the 50-and-over PGA Tour Champions — and 9 months with out ending within the prime 20. He fell out of the highest 100 on the planet in March. The final time he was exterior the highest 100 was August 1993, three weeks after Jordan Spieth was born.

And nonetheless he pressed on with none secret sauce besides to maintain attempting.

“My desire to play is the same,” he stated. “I’ve never been driven by exterior things. I’ve always been intrinsically motivated because I love to compete, I love playing the game. I love having opportunities to play against the best at the highest level. That’s what drives me, and the belief that I could still do it inspired me to work harder.

“I just didn’t see why it couldn’t be done,” he said. “It just took a little bit more effort.”

Winning is why he plays, and winning can be exhausting. That’s 48 victories worldwide to go along with 39 runner-up finishes and as much heartache as joy in some of the majors, particularly the U.S. Open.

Mickelson is still finding ways to get better.

The topic in that Nicklaus interview was Woods, who had just returned from 15 months off after a third of what would be four back surgeries. Nicklaus ended his thoughts on motivation by adding as aside, “Phil is not done yet, either.”

That was five years ago.

Nicklaus could say the same thing today.


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