Phil Mickelson is a Majors winner. Again. Ranked 115th in the world and without a top ten in his last 16 major tournament appearances, he did the unthinkable. With his almost 51 years in tow, he took the 103rd edition of the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island, his sixth Major.
“It is an incredible feeling because, despite thinking that I could do it and that it was possible, everything seemed to indicate that it was not” said Mickelson at the end of his heroic lap. And he is right. You only have to look at the bets that paid 250 to 1 last Wednesday, before the start of the tournament, to realize how difficult and out of the calculations a southpaw win was. “I hope that others find inspiration with this triumph. It can take a lot of work and represent a much greater effort, but believe me it is worth it, ”Mickelson concluded.
Tiger Woods, the player Mickelson had to deal with his entire career, confirmed this in a tweet: “Truly inspiring to see @PhilMickelson do it again at 50. Congratulations!
Ironically, of Mickelson’s six Majors wins, this latest at the 2021 PGA Championship, it is the only one that Tiger did not play in.
It is also quite unusual that the oldest player to win a Major has won it on the longest court on which a major tournament has ever been played. The Kiawah Island Ocean Course played at 7,876 yards.
This is also the victory of a complete era. Phil Mickelson’s first win in a PGA Tour tournament was 30 years ago, in January 1991 at the Northern Telecom Open in Tucson, Arizona. The story of that triumph is well worth it. Mickelson was still an amateur at the time and studying in Arizona. He had won the US Amateur and the NCAA Championship in 1990, an achievement so far emulated only by Jack Nicklaus. Then would Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau.
On the final lap, 20-year-old Mickelson led by a shot off the 14th hole. But a series of mistakes led him to score an eight on that hole and finish in fifth place. The leaders Bob Tway and Tom Purtzer made a mistake and a birdie by Mickelson on the 16th hole left him tied again for the lead. Mickelson made par at 17 and birdied the final hole to win the tournament by one stroke. Since Gene Littler in 1954, only Scott Verplank (1985) and Phil Mickelson have won a PGA Tour tournament as amateurs.
Mickelson graduated from Arizona State University as a psychologist in 1992 and turned professional that same year. It took him 12 years to win his first Major when he was champion at the 2004 Masters. He would repeat at Augusta in 2006 and 2010. He also won the PGA Championship in 2005 at Baltusrol and the British Open in 2013, in Muirfield, Scotland. He was never able to win the US Open, his great unfinished business thus far, and in light of these incredible events, that “so far” seems prudent.
This is a win for golfers of all ages. A victory for the longevity of the sport and also, as Mickelson himself put it, it is a victory for the love of the game of golf. “I never got carried away by outside things, rather I was always motivated because I love to compete. I love playing golf and I really enjoy the opportunity to play against the best at the highest level, ”continued Mickelson.
This Sunday also served to verify that when you watch golf and have the feeling that a result is going to be inevitable, you have to remember that you are watching golf, and that nothing is inevitable. Because yesterday Mickelson, who had shown weakness in the second nine holes of Saturday, made a very bad bogey on hole 1, and Brooks Koepka, the almost infallible collector of Majors, birdied and went to the lead in the first chapter of the duel , everyone was made inviting that Mickelson would be second in a Major again. And it is not bad to say it like that, because Mickelson, beyond the five major titles he had, was second in eleven other opportunities. The southpaw could have gone so far this time to fall back on that curse.
But Koepka, with all the clean and jerk in the world and all his prestige as an iceman, could not guarantee that his clubface would be square at almost 200 km / h when a crowd of people, quite well hydrated with light beer, filled a field of golf and cheered without exception for his playing partner.
Perhaps the first sign that something supernatural was about to happen came on par 3 of the 5th hole when Mickelson holed his shot from the bunker.
A few hours later this was confirmed and a tremendous commotion ran through the golf course.
Despite his enormous career, there is something that Phil Mickelson never accomplished. It was never No. 1 in the World Ranking. It may look like another curse, because he was ranked # 2 for 270 weeks. There is no need to name the culprit for this apparent injustice.
Latinos in Kiawah
Abraham Ancer He was not planning to leave Kiawah Island without leaving an indelible mark. Ancer had started the last round tied for 58th place, with a total of +6. But the determined Mexican is not called to mediocrity. Out of nowhere he built a lap in which he scored seven birdies and had no failures. So he ended up climbing 50 spots to finish tied for 8th place. It’s only a matter of time before Ancer achieves his first PGA Tour win and it doesn’t seem impossible that he could get a Major in the near future.
The Argentine Emiliano Grillo it went from worst to best in this PGA Championship. His first round of +5 was a serious blow. But Cricket got over it. He made a pair respectively in the second and third rounds and on Sunday he got a valuable 70 (-2) and was +3 tied for 38th place. Much to highlight these days for Grillo. Everything indicates that another triumph should come soon.
The other side of this coin was the Chilean Joaquín Niemann, who had started the final round very hopeful with a total of -2 tied for seventh place, just five behind. But golf is golf and Joaquin had one of those days when nothing seems to go right. He made 76 hits (+4) and was relegated to 30th place.
Mexican Carlos Ortiz did not have a good day either. He made 76 (+4) and finished the tournament tied for 55th place.
The next major event will be in just four weeks, when the attention of the golf world shifts to another spectacular course, Torrey Pines in San Diego, California, where the 121st edition of the US Open will be played. It will be until then.