Phil Mickelson rewrote golf history by becoming the oldest player to win a major title following a nerve-racking two-shot victory at the PGA Championship.
At 50 years, 11 months and 7 days old, the American veteran star claimed his sixth major crown and 45th PGA TOUR title with a closing 1-over 73 helping him see off the challenges of Louis Oosthuizen (73) and Brooks Koepka (74), who finished tied second at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
Left-landed Mickelson, who took a one-shot lead into the final round, defeated Father Time and a stellar field to replace Julius Boros (48 years, 4 months, 18 days/1968 PGA Championship) as the oldest major champion. He also joined Sam Snead, Davis Love III and Raymond Floyd to win in four different decades on the PGA TOUR.
“I mean this is just an incredible feeling. I just believed that this was possible but yet everything was saying it wasn’t. I hope that others find that inspiration. It might take a little extra work and a bit harder effort to maintain physically and maintain the skills but gosh, it is worth it in the end. I’m so appreciative to hold this Wannamaker Trophy,” said a jubilant Mickelson, who ended the week on 6-under 282.
“I just love this game of golf and I love what I do and I love the challenge of competing against these great players. I don’t think I have had such an experience like that.”
Koepka, who was chasing his fifth major title, paid tribute to Mickelson after their head-to-head duel. “Just how bad I putted the last two days. Three days, actually. It felt like tap-ins I was missing. Never felt comfortable, and you’re not going to win if you do that,” said Koepka.
“The thing was, Phil played great. That whole stretch when we turned after 4 and 5 and played those holes, it’s into off the left for me and that’s quite difficult for a right-handed player. And it suited Phil right down to the ground, and I thought he played that entire stretch from about 6 to 13 so well. I’m happy for him, Amy and Tim (his brother-caddie). It’s pretty cool to see but a bit disappointed in myself.”
Korea’s Sungjae Im finished as the leading Asian player in the elite field in tied 17th position after carding a final round 73 for a 288 total. It was his best finish in the PGA Championship in four appearances.
A month after an historic Masters victory, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama carded a final round 72 to finish in a share of 23rd position.