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‘No reason why we can’t be our best later on in life’

Relief pitcher Tug McGraw is credited with coining the phrase “Ya Gotta Believe,” which grew to become the rallying cry of the 1973 New York Mets. Phil Mickelson could owe some royalties on that battle cry after his stunning victory at the 103rd PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Despite not having registered a top-10 end in a serious since 2016, or perhaps a top-20 end on the PGA Tour this season, Mickelson nonetheless believed that he couldn’t solely win once more, however win one other main.

“I had seen the progress but I had not seen the results,” he stated forward of this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, “and so that’s why I say, I had a belief but until you actually do it, it’s tough to really fully believe it.”

Mickelson credited taking part in in opposition to stiff competitors with protecting him motivated to boost his recreation to their degree. Nearly a 12 months in the past, he performed a sequence of rounds with Xander Schauffele at The Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, California, and Mickelson acquired waxed by the present World No. 6, who shot rounds of 64 and 63.

“I’m like, ‘Wow, OK. Let me try one more time,’ ” Mickelson recalled. “So, we go out next time and he shoots 62 and on a 220-yard par 3, I had to press and hit one to 4 feet and he makes a hole-in-one. I went back and talked to Amy and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to beat this guy. He’s probably playing the best of any player in the world right now.’ ”

At age 50, Mickelson labored more durable than he ever had earlier than, usually taking part in as many as 45 holes a day and final month he posted scores in the low 60s at The Farms that satisfied him he was on the verge of returning to the winner’s circle.

“Then I went to Innisbrook (for the Valspar Championship) and I missed the cut and I didn’t shoot the scores and I didn’t execute on Tour the way I had been at home,” he stated. “I still had a barrier to break through and that’s why I was so frustrated is that I wasn’t bringing my best out when I knew I could, and I had a glimpse there obviously at Charlotte in one round but wasn’t able to sustain it.”

Mickelson stumbled from main the Wells Fargo Championship after a gap 64 two weeks in the past, ending T-69, however his confidence didn’t waver, stated his brother and caddie Tim Mickelson.

“Right after Charlotte, he said, ‘I am going to win again soon.’ I just said, ‘Well, let’s just make sure we’re in contention on a Sunday,’ ” Tim Mickelson stated.

Mickelson’s longtime agent Steve Loy echoed that sentiment. “Every time I try to tell him, look, we are running out of time, he’s going, ‘I don’t want to hear it.’ ” On the morning of the ultimate spherical, Loy despatched a easy textual content message to Mickelson, who he caddied for 30 years in the past when Mickelson gained his first PGA Tour title as an newbie at Arizona State.

“I said, ‘Phil, I’m getting too old for this, but you aren’t. Let’s get it done.’ ” Loy recalled.

Mickelson flew dwelling Sunday evening after the victory and stayed up celebrating together with his spouse, Amy. He’s again in motion this week at a event the place he’s gained two of his 45 PGA Tour titles.

“I want to try to carry that momentum into a tournament that I’ve enjoyed many times and fortunate to win a couple of times on a great golf course,” he stated.

It will be Mickelson’s final begin earlier than the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, one in every of his childhood playgrounds, in San Diego, and he’ll take two weeks to prep for the one main that has eluded him all these years. Winning a sixth main championship has bolstered his perception that it isn’t too late for him to finish the profession Grand Slam.

“One of two things are going to happen: Either that’s going to be my last win and I’m going to have one of the most cherished victories of my career to look back on and cherish for a long time, or I also may have kind of found a little something that helps me stay a little bit more present and helps me focus throughout round a little bit longer and maybe I can execute and play golf at the highest level for a nice extended period of time now,” Mickelson stated. “I don’t know which one it’s going to be, but either way, they are both positive.”

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