Mickelson's momentous moment

Oldest major winner ever, captures 6th major - 2021 PGA Championship

PGA Championship 2021 R4
May 20-23
Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, SC
Round 1, Round 2, Round 3

Estimated reading time: 14 minutes


KIAWAH ISLAND, SC. Phil Mickelson’s career has been one of epic highs and devastating lows.


PGA Championship 2021 R4

Lefty’s improbable win at The Ocean Course in South Carolina’s Lowcountry along the Atlantic Ocean showcased a high of unprecedented stature. Mickelson became the oldest winner of a major championship at 50 years of age — surpassing the previous mark set by Julius Boros who won the 1968 PGA Championship at the age of 48.

Mickelson’s last major victory came in 2013 at The Open Championship at Muirfield and his last PGA Tour win came in February 2019 at the AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. He is now tied for 12th in terms of major championships victories with six and added his second PGA Championship — the first coming in 2005 at Baltusrol GC in New Jersey.


PGA Championship 2021 R4

Coming into the 103rd PGA Championship Mickelson had not cracked the top 20 in any PGA Tour event played this seaon. Oddsmakers had him at no less than 200-1 odds and his world ranking had him at 115th — he’s now 32nd. 

Entering the final round with a one-stroke lead and playing in the final twosome with four-time major champion Brooks Koepka, Mickelson knew full well the need to play at a high level given the qualities of Koepka and those chasing him. Beyond the nature of the competition was the daunting challenge presented by The Ocean Course which proved vexing to all competitors throughout the four days of the competition.


PGA Championship 2021 R4

Mickelson fired a final round of 73 and 282 total — outlasting co-runners-up Koepka and South African Louis Oosthuizen who finished with a 284 total.

The on-site gallery — limited to roughly 10,000 because of pandemic protocols — were clearly engaged to lend their support to Mickelson as soon as he stepped onto the 1st tee.

The demands of The Ocean Course provided for constant tension on nearly every shot for the main contenders. Mickelson opened with a bogey on the 1st hole — rebounded with a birdie at the 2nd — then bogied the 3rd. Koepka momentarily tied for the lead with an opening birdie but fell back with a double-bogey at the par-5 2nd.


PGA Championship 2021 R4

The pair would trade major shot swings throughout the outward nine with Mickelson holing out a greenside bunker shot at the par-3 5th and then following-up with a bogey at the par-4 6th and rebounding for a birdie at the par-5 7th. 

Koekpa would close the margin with a birdie at the 6th but inexplicably a pushed 3-metal club at the par-5 7th resulted in another debilitating bogey. 

As the two exited the par-4 9th — it was Mickelson who held a two-shot lead.

With nine holes to play Mickelson expanded his lead at the par-4 10th with a sensational birdie courtesy of a wonderfully played approach shot and a 15-foot birdie putt. Koepka continued his uncharacteristic erratic play with another bogey – the lead growing to four shots.


PGA Championship 2021 R4

Oosthuizen hovered in the mix but a deflating double-bogey on Sunday’s most difficult 13th hole derailed his efforts.

Koepka made a late round move with consecutive birdies at the 15th and 16th hole — and was aided by back-to-back bogies by Mickelson at the 13th and 14th holes. The lead narrowed to two shots as the final pairing made their way to the 18th tee. Mickelson found the left rough with his tee shot but his 9-iron approach to the center of the green left him with a 20-foot putt which he easily two-putted to seal his triumph.


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PGA Championship 2021 R4

For much of his career Mickelson has played in the considerable shadow of Tiger Woods. That shadow prevented Mickelson from ever being ranked number one in the world. The win at The Ocean Course has pushed his already considerable stature even higher and for once Mickelson has done something in his accomplished career that neither Woods, nor any other golfers has ever done, win a major at 50 years, 11 months and 7 days. 

Mickelson displayed a revamped physique and a committed mental process that worked superbly in tandem with his brother Tim who serves as Phil’s caddie. The interplay between the two was certainly evident and above all else — meaningful.


PGA Championship 2021 R4

As Mickelson approached the final green the crowd engulfed both players. In the same manner that supporters flocked around Woods when winning the ’18 Tour Championship, the gallery at Kiawah was certainly buoyant having played a meaningful role in supporting Mickelson to victory.

The next major arrives in June with the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Club. It is a San Diego course Mickelson grew up playing and he has won the Farmers Insurance event three times. The USGA had extended Mickelson an exemption to play in the event and Phil’s play this week showed how prescient they were in doing so.

The lone major Phil has never won is the U.S. Open — being runner-up a record six times. A win in June would mean becoming the 6th golfer to have won the career grand slam. What seemed unlikely before this week’s PGA Championship cannot now be summarily dismissed. Clearly his odds for that event will not be anywhere near what they were for the PGA Championship. He now returns to his childhood venue in grand style.


PGA Championship 2021 R4

Final notes —

*Rickie Fowler, granted a special exemption into this year’s event, had his best finish in a major with a T8 since the 2019 Open Championship when he earned a T6. Fowler played well on the weekend with rounds of 69-71.

*A total of 13 players scored in the 60s during the final round. The low 18-hole round for the event was shot by Abraham Ancer scoring a seven-under-par 65.

*Defending champion Colin Morikawa finished T8 along with rising star Will Zalatoris, this year’s Masters runner-up.

*Wind direction for the final round did what forecasters expected. For the first three rounds a northeast wind blew. For the final round winds changed to the prevailing southwest direction causing players to make major adjustments in terms of club selection. The 18th and 17th — the two most difficult holes for the first three rounds — played much easier with helping wind for the final 18 holes.

PGA Championship 2021 R4 - Mickelson's momentous moment

*Ireland had two of its favorite sons in the mix during Sunday’s final round. Padraig Harrington, who is 49 and turns 50 in August, finished in a T4th with fellow countryman Shane Lowry.

*Kudos to the PGA of America in opting to move its flagship event to the May time frame which commenced with the 2019 event. Going from the August time frame to May and in following the Masters has smartly positioned the event between the Masters and U.S. Open.

*An additional acknowledgement to Kerry Haigh of the PGA of America in once again demonstrating the wherewithal to properly prepare a site for a major event. The Ocean Course was a formidable test and while the layout presented scoring opportunities it only did so when proper execution was carried out.

*Mickelson’s win only adds to the pressure USA Ryder Cup Captain Steve Stricker faces when announcing selections for the American team in the next few months. Phil has been a member of every team going back to 1995 but his last performance in 2018 in Paris was hardly a highlight as he was beaten decisively in his singles match against Francesco Molinari to provide the decisive point for Team Europe’s resounding win. With Phil’s win at Kiawah — Stricker may have to ponder if including a revitalized Mickelson as one of his six Captain’s picks will be an added plus as the USA attempts to win back the Cup. This year’s matches are to be played in late September at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Mickelson has played in a record 12 matches for Team USA.


PGA Championship 2021 R4

*The 104th PGA Championship in 2022 will be played at the Southern Hills CC in Tulsa, OK. The site was included after the original venue Trump National Bedminster (NJ) was shelved by the PGA of America given the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the connection with then President Donald Trump.

PGA Championship 2021 R4

Pos.
Player
To Par
R1
R2
R3
R4
Total
1
Phil Mickelson
-6
70
69
70
73
282
T2
Louis Oosthuizen
-4
71
68
72
73
284
T2
Brooks Koepka
-4
69
71
70
74
284
T4
Shane Lowry
-2
73
71
73
69
286
T4
Padraig Harrington
-2
71
73
73
69
286
T4
Harry Higgs
-2
72
71
73
70
286
T4
Paul Casey
-2
71
71
73
71
286
T8
Abraham Ancer
-1
74
72
76
65
287
T8
Justin Rose
-1
72
75
73
67
287
T8
Collin Morikawa
-1
70
75
74
68
287
T8
Jon Rahm
-1
72
75
72
68
287
T8
Will Zalatoris
-1
71
74
72
70
287
T8
Scottie Scheffler
-1
72
74
71
70
287
T8
Tony Finau
-1
74
72
70
71
287
T8
Rickie Fowler
-1
71
76
69
71
287
T8
Kevin Streelman
-1
70
72
70
75
287
T17
Aaron Wise
E
69
79
72
68
288
T17
Patrick Reed
E
74
75
69
70
288
T17
Charley Hoffman
E
73
70
73
72
288
T17
Keegan Bradley
E
69
75
72
72
288
T17
Sungjae Im
E
70
72
73
73
288
T17
Corey Conners
E
67
75
73
73
288
T23
Chan Kim
1
75
74
73
67
289
T23
Jason Scrivener
1
73
75
72
69
289
T23
Martin Laird
1
70
73
74
72
289
T23
Hideki Matsuyama
1
73
68
76
72
289
T23
Billy Horschel
1
77
72
68
72
289
T23
Matt Fitzpatrick
1
73
71
72
73
289
T23
Patrick Cantlay
1
73
73
70
73
289
T30
Matt Jones
2
73
75
74
68
290
T30
Stewart Cink
2
71
76
74
69
290
T30
Viktor Hovland
2
69
75
75
71
290
T30
Webb Simpson
2
75
74
69
72
290
T30
Ian Poulter
2
74
70
73
73
290
T30
Jordan Spieth
2
73
75
68
74
290
T30
Joaquin Niemann
2
71
72
71
76
290
T30
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
2
71
70
72
77
290
T38
Emiliano Grillo
3
77
72
72
70
291
T38
Tyrrell Hatton
3
71
75
73
72
291
T38
Richy Werenski
3
71
72
73
75
291
T38
Gary Woodland
3
70
72
72
77
291
T38
Bryson DeChambeau
3
72
71
71
77
291
T38
Branden Grace
3
70
71
72
78
291
T44
Jason Day
4
74
75
72
71
292
T44
Daniel van Tonder
4
75
70
74
73
292
T44
Talor Gooch
4
71
78
70
73
292
T44
Ben Cook
4
72
77
69
74
292
T44
Steve Stricker
4
76
71
70
75
292
T49
Byeong Hun An
5
73
75
77
68
293
T49
Sam Horsfield
5
69
80
73
71
293
T49
Rory McIlroy
5
75
72
74
72
293
T49
Robert MacIntyre
5
75
73
72
73
293
T49
Harold Varner III
5
73
76
71
73
293
T49
Jason Kokrak
5
71
72
73
77
293
T55
Matt Wallace
6
73
73
77
71
294
T55
Alex Noren
6
77
72
70
75
294
T55
Carlos Ortiz
6
73
74
71
76
294
T55
Joel Dahmen
6
74
73
70
77
294
T59
Robert Streb
7
77
72
74
72
295
T59
Cam Davis
7
69
78
76
72
295
T59
Dean Burmester
7
74
74
74
73
295
T59
Denny McCarthy
7
73
76
72
74
295
T59
Cameron Smith
7
72
73
73
77
295
T64
Garrick Higgo
8
73
76
78
69
296
T64
Henrik Stenson
8
73
76
76
71
296
T64
Adam Hadwin
8
77
71
76
72
296
T64
Harris English
8
75
74
75
72
296
T64
Tom Hoge
8
74
75
74
73
296
T64
Jimmy Walker
8
73
74
75
74
296
T64
Danny Willett
8
77
71
74
74
296
T71
Lucas Herbert
9
76
72
77
72
297
T71
Russell Henley
9
78
70
74
75
297
T71
Tom Lewis
9
71
74
76
76
297
T71
Lee Westwood
9
73
72
75
77
297
T75
Daniel Berger
10
79
69
74
76
298
T75
Wyndham Clark
10
75
74
72
77
298
77
Brendan Steele
11
75
74
77
73
299
78
Brad Marek
12
73
73
78
76
300
79
Rasmus Hojgaard
13
71
76
79
75
301
80
Bubba Watson
14
72
73
77
80
302
81
Brian Gay
18
77
71
80
78
306
CUT
Andy Sullivan
6
73
77
   
150
CUT
Brian Harman
6
75
75
   
150
CUT
Antoine Rozner
6
79
71
   
150
CUT
Chez Reavie
6
77
73
   
150
CUT
Dustin Johnson
6
76
74
   
150
CUT
Sergio Garcia
6
77
73
   
150
CUT
Victor Perez
6
78
72
   
150
CUT
Mackenzie Hughes
6
75
75
   
150
CUT
Marc Leishman
6
74
76
   
150
CUT
Adam Scott
6
78
72
   
150
CUT
Xander Schauffele
6
73
77
   
150
CUT
Justin Thomas
6
75
75
   
150
CUT
Peter Malnati
6
78
72
   
150
CUT
Si Woo Kim
7
75
76
   
151
CUT
Sebastian Munoz
7
77
74
   
151
CUT
Rich Beem
7
74
77
   
151
CUT
Tommy Fleetwood
7
76
75
   
151
CUT
Maverick McNealy
7
78
73
   
151
CUT
Brendon Todd
7
74
77
   
151
CUT
Thomas Detry
7
76
75
   
151
CUT
Danny Balin
8
79
73
   
152
CUT
Chris Kirk
8
76
76
   
152
CUT
Cameron Tringale
8
70
82
   
152
CUT
Dylan Frittelli
8
73
79
   
152
CUT
Jason Dufner
8
71
81
   
152
CUT
Zach Johnson
8
74
78
   
152
CUT
Ryan Palmer
8
74
78
   
152
CUT
Martin Kaymer
8
75
77
   
152
CUT
Lanto Griffin
8
74
78
   
152
CUT
Jim Herman
9
78
75
   
153
CUT
J.T. Poston
9
75
78
   
153
CUT
Greg Koch
9
76
77
   
153
CUT
Bernd Wiesberger
9
78
75
   
153
CUT
Hudson Swafford
9
77
76
   
153
CUT
Erik van Rooyen
9
72
81
   
153
CUT
Kurt Kitayama
10
77
77
   
154
CUT
Sami Valimaki
10
78
76
   
154
CUT
Max Homa
10
78
76
   
154
CUT
Matt Kuchar
10
77
77
   
154
CUT
Adam Long
10
72
82
   
154
CUT
George Coetzee
10
75
79
   
154
CUT
John Catlin
10
75
79
   
154
CUT
Kevin Kisner
10
77
77
   
154
CUT
Brett Walker
10
77
77
   
154
CUT
Kalle Samooja
10
74
80
   
154
CUT
Pete Ballo
11
80
75
   
155
CUT
K.H. Lee
11
78
77
   
155
CUT
Charl Schwartzel
11
76
79
   
155
CUT
Tim Pearce
12
79
77
   
156
CUT
Aaron Rai
12
81
75
   
156
CUT
Ben Polland
12
76
80
   
156
CUT
Mark Geddes
12
75
81
   
156
CUT
Jazz Janewattananond
13
77
80
   
157
CUT
Rob Labritz
13
76
81
   
157
CUT
Brandon Hagy
13
77
80
   
157
CUT
Kevin Na
13
79
78
   
157
CUT
Cameron Champ
15
82
77
   
159
CUT
Stuart Smith
15
82
77
   
159
CUT
Rikuya Hoshino
15
76
83
   
159
CUT
Thomas Pieters
16
76
84
   
160
CUT
Alex Beach
17
75
86
   
161
CUT
Shaun Micheel
17
81
80
   
161
CUT
Brandon Stone
17
78
83
   
161
CUT
Takumi Kanaya
17
75
86
   
161
CUT
Patrick Rada
18
76
86
   
162
CUT
Sonny Skinner
19
85
78
   
163
CUT
Larkin Gross
20
80
84
   
164
CUT
Frank Bensel, Jr.
21
86
79
   
165
CUT
Joe Summerhays
21
81
84
   
165
CUT
Omar Uresti
21
82
83
   
165
CUT
Derek Holmes
21
79
86
   
165
CUT
Tyler Collet
26
88
82
   
170
CUT
John Daly
27
85
86
   
171
WD
Sam Burns
E
41
   
41
DQ
Y.E. Yang
E
75
83
   
158