The 103rd PGA Championship had every little thing we needed in a serious: a venerable venue boasting movie-set surroundings and the longest yardage in historical past, a solid of marquee characters with intriguing “will he or won’t he” storylines, and a legit entry into the golf historical past books as Phil Mickelson – at 50 years, 11 months and 7 days – turned the oldest main winner in PGA Tour historical past and first participant to win a serious after age 50.
The “age thing” was a theme all week at Kiawah Island. It had been greater than two years since Mickelson final gained on Tour, on the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February 2019. It had been eight years since he final gained a serious – the 2013 Open Championship – and 16 years since he final gained the PGA Championship, in 2005 at Baltusrol. The “oldest ever” title beforehand belonged to Julius Boros, who was 48 years, 4 months and 18 days outdated in the course of the 1968 PGA Championship.
Mickelson began the week as a +20000 longshot, however by Sunday night he was the one with his arms on the Wanamaker Trophy.
“So, it’s very possible that this is the last tournament I ever win,” mentioned Mickelson, who shot 70-69-70-73=282, 6 underneath to win by two photographs over two-time PGA champ Brooks Koepka and main winner Louis Oosthuizen. “Like, if I’m being realistic. But it’s also very possible that I may have had a little bit of a breakthrough in some of my focus and maybe I go on a little bit of a run, I don’t know.
“But the point is that there’s no reason why I, or anybody else, can’t do it at a later age. It just takes a little bit more work.”
Part of that work included some centered “brain training,” which included meditation, breath work, a measured tempo, visualization and unwavering perception.
“I believed for a long time that I could play at this level again,” mentioned Mickelson, who flip 51 on June 16. “I didn’t see why I couldn’t, but I wasn’t executing the way I believed I could … It’s very exciting because I’ve had a few breakthroughs on being able to stay more present, be able to stay more focused, and physically, I’m striking it and playing as well as I ever have but I haven’t been able to see that clear picture. Although I believed it, until I actually did it, there was a lot of doubt, I’m sure.”
He additionally had some notable stats on paper to again up his perception: Mickelson led the sphere with 22 birdies, his most ever in a PGA Championship (his earlier greatest was 21 in 2014 the place he completed second to Rory McIlroy), and he additionally led the sphere in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (12.903), a class during which he ranks 176th on Tour for the season.
It had been 5 years since Mickelson had been within the last pairing on the ultimate day of a serious, with the final coming within the 2016 Open Championship the place he misplaced a Sunday duel to Sweden’s Henrik Stenson by three photographs regardless of taking pictures 65. Sunday served up the scrumptious pairing with two-time PGA champ Koepka, who began the day one shot behind Mickelson.
Mickelson, sporting the Top Gun-meets-Biden mirrored shades that he wore all week, met the event with the practiced endurance he had displayed via the primary three rounds and survived 5 multiple-shot swings that challenged his place within the lead. He mentioned the turning level of the spherical got here after an alternate with his brother following his bogey at No. 6, his third of the day.
“He pulled me aside and said, ‘If you’re going to win this thing, you’re going to have to make committed golf swings,’” he recounted. “It hit me in the head, I can’t make passive — I can’t control the outcome, I have to swing committed. The first one I made was the drive on 7. Good drive on 7 gave me a chance to get down by the green and make birdie. From there on, I hit a lot of really good shots because I was committed to each one.”
In case you’re already questioning, sure, he’s already eager about Torrey Pines, that elusive U.S. Open title and the profession Grand Slam. Earlier within the week, Mickelson accepted a sponsor exemption into the occasion, however gained’t want it now because of the five-year exemption that comes with his PGA victory.
“I’ve believed for some time now without success that I could play at my best and compete in major championships still, but until this week, I haven’t proven it to myself or anyone else,” he mentioned. “But I do believe that if I stay sharp mentally, I can play well at Torrey Pines. I’ll take two weeks off before that and go out to Torrey and spend time, spend time on the greens and really try to be sharp for that week because I know that I’m playing well, and this could very well be my last really good opportunity … to win a U.S. Open. So I’m going to put everything I have into it.”
Other enjoyable Phil stats:
• Mickelson improved to 4-for-6 with the 54-hole lead or co-lead in main championships and 22-for-37 in 72-hole Tour occasions.
• It’s been 30 years, 4 months and 10 days since Mickelson earned his first Tour title on the 1991 Northern Telecom Open as an newbie, the longest time between wins by a participant in Tour historical past.
• Mickelson is now the fourth participant to win Tour occasions in 4 completely different a long time (others are Sam Snead, Raymond Floyd, Davis Love III).
• The win moved Mickelson to T-8 on the all-time Tour wins checklist, changing into the ninth participant to succeed in 45 wins, and T-12 on the all-time main wins checklist, changing into the 14th participant to win six or extra majors.
• Mickelson turns into the sixth-oldest Tour winner of all time and the oldest since Love gained the 2015 Wyndham Championship, and he’s the eighth participant to win on Tour after turning 50.
‘Super disappointed’ Koepka retains it clear
Sunday marked the primary time in 40 years that each gamers within the last pairing on the ultimate day of a serious every held 4 or extra majors, and regardless of lacking the lower in his final two begins since having knee surgical procedure March 16, Koepka was eager to bump his complete to 5.
“Right now, I’m super disappointed, pretty bummed. I’m not happy,” mentioned Koepka, whose T-2 end marked his seventh win or runner-up end in a serious because the begin of 2017. “I don’t know if there’s a right word I can say on here without getting fined, but it hurts a little bit. It’s one of those things where I just never felt comfortable over the putts. I don’t know why, what happened.
“You know, I spent all weekend, the weekend before, working on it and it was great, and you know, just overdid it. I was trying to get my hands a little lower and ended up getting my hands too far low and actually ended up getting further away from the ball. The last nine, I just tried to go back to what I’ve always done, and I felt like I was hitting better putts. I just wish I would have done it sooner.”
Rory’s repeat effort comes up brief
Rory McIlroy didn’t come near his 2012 efficiency at Kiawah, taking pictures 5 over, 295 (75-72-74-72) to complete T-49.
“More of the same, very average,” mentioned McIlroy in a blunt evaluation of his last spherical. “I couldn’t really get anything going and it was a day where you had to get off to a fast start. The first few holes were playing a lot easier than they have done, and I didn’t do that, just sort of got stuck in neutral.
“I nonetheless have a technique to go along with every little thing. I simply want to determine a driver, as effectively. I simply have not pushed the ball in addition to I do know that I can for a very long time, and that is actually the inspiration of my recreation. Once I’m driving it effectively, every little thing turns into a lot simpler.”
Spieth’s slam quest on maintain, Morikawa notches high 10
Talk coming into the week centered round Jordan Spieth’s chase for the profession Grand Slam, however that aim fell out of attain with a 2-over 74 on Sunday. He made the lower with a lackluster 73-75 that put him only one stroke above the lower line, then improved Saturday with a 4-under 68 however did not get any momentum stepping into his last spherical.
Also lacking momentum was Bryson DeChambeau. The “longest course meets longest hitter” storyline by no means materialized, and after beginning with three regular rounds of 72-71-71, he ballooned to a 5-over 77 on Sunday.
Defending champion Collin Morikawa carded a 4-under 68 on Sunday to earn a top-10 end at T-8, and mentioned he loved having the goal on his again this week: “You’ve got a little extra weight on your back just being the defending champion. People want to take the trophy from you. Someone is going to take that away come later today, but I enjoy it. I enjoy being in that position. You want to be in those positions because it shows that you’ve succeeded.”
Early exit for DJ, Thomas
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson shot 76-74 (6 over) to overlook the lower by a shot and have become the primary No. 1-ranked participant since Greg Norman in 1997 to overlook the weekend in consecutive majors. Johnson hadn’t performed because the Valspar three weeks prior and withdrew forward of final week’s Byron Nelson, citing knee ache.
Prior to the beginning of the event, Johnson revealed he had an MRI on his proper knee, which he had surgically repaired in 2019. “It just didn’t feel right,” he mentioned Wednesday, noting the MRI got here again clear. “Everything was fine. Just got together with the doctor and physio down there (in South Florida) and put together a little bit of a plan to get a little bit stronger. It feels good, though.”
Despite profitable 4 occasions in 2020, Johnson has gone seven begins with no high 10, together with lacking the lower on the Masters and three finishes of T-48 or worse.
World No. 2 Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA champ and 2021 Players champion, additionally went dwelling early after taking pictures 75-75. So did No. 4 Xander Schauffele (73-77), who missed his first lower in a serious since 2017, and main winners Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott.
Up subsequent: Charles Schwab Challenge
Daniel Berger, who gained the Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this yr, will defend his title subsequent week when the Tour heads to Colonial Country Club for the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.
Mickelson, winner in 2000 and 2008, Thomas and world No. 8 Patrick Reed are amongst these slated to play. So is Spieth, who goals to proceed his development of excellent play in Texas. Spieth gained the Valero Texas Open in April at San Antonio and completed T-9 on the WGC-Match Play in Austin and on the Byron Nelson in Dallas this yr.
But the feel-good storyline heading into the week must be sponsor exemption Michael Visacki, a Monday qualifier on the Valspar. A viral video of an emotional Visacki calling his father to inform him he certified for the occasion caught the attention of Charles Schwab himself, who prolonged Visacki the invite.
Colonial was the primary to welcome the Tour again final yr following a three-month hiatus in the course of the early levels of the pandemic, and followers had been handled to a present when Berger birdied the 72nd gap and topped Collin Morikawa in a playoff. This yr marks the event’s seventy fifth anniversary. Fun reality: Only one golfer has gained back-to-back occasions at Colonial: Ben Hogan, who did it twice (1946-47, 1952-53).
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