Phil Mickelson makes golfing history as Irish boys make late run
At the grand old age of 50, 'Lefty' has made golfing history.
Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo... Phil Mickelson. Add the name of one of modern golf's great entertainers to a list of men to win six Majors.
Mickelson led the PGA Championship from mid-way through the second round, at Kiawah Island, and survived a couple of wobbles to sear his name into the history books. At 50 years old [turning 51 in four weeks' time], Mickelson is the oldest ever winner of a golfing Major.
On a day of high drama, there was an exciting Irish twist to events. Padraig Harrington rolled back the years and Shane Lowry was right there with him. Such were the twisting fortunes of the final day that both men were in joint third and only three shots back, at one stage.
Harrington and Lowry were paired together for their final round, and they both sparked off each other.
The Irish pair carded -3 closing rounds of 69 and, with much of the leading pack crumbling, they climbed the leaderboard late in the afternoon.
Lowry birdied three of his final 10 holes to finish on -2 and set the clubhouse lead. Harrington, who had briefly climbed to -3, followed him in for a final tally of 286 after a bogey on 15 and three closing pars.
The Sunday surge from the Irish duo had many fans in Europe staying up past their bed-time and the commentators wondering aloud if Harrington could repeat his PGA-winning feat of 2008.
It was ultimately not to be, but it raises the question if Harrington would fancy his chances as a playing captain at the Ryder Cup, late this year. Asked if the three-time Major winner should pick himself, Lowry told reporters:
"Yeah, well, he hasn't lost it, has he. He's still the ultra competitor. You know, he chipped in on 14. And then he bombed a drive down 15. I was like, 'Wow, if Paddy can make one or two on the way in, he's got a good chance here'. Yeah, he's 50 in August, so God help those guys on the Senior Tour!"
One thing is for sure, though. Lowry will be at Team Europe's vanguard when Ryder Cup action commences at Whistling Straits. Both Irishmen finished in a tie for 4th and will receive a bundle of Ryder Cup points for their efforts.
So, with 49-year-old Harrington missing out, it was 50-year-old Mickelson left to take the acclaim.
17 years after his first Major victory, and eight years since his last, the American started on -7 and missed the edgy with the sublime over the front nine. His chip in for birdie, on the fifth, had the fans going wild.
Phil Mickelson swinging the big chain! pic.twitter.com/Tx87P0StfU
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) May 23, 2021
With Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen fighting hard to make him earn his sixth Major, the San Diego native then birdied the 10th to go -8 and give himself a five-shot cushion. However, such is the biting nature of Kiawah's Ocean Course that there were a couple of two-shot swings in either direction on the back nine.
There were bogeys on 13 and 14 but a lovely chip on 16 gave him a tap-in birdie and a three-stroke lead with two holes to play.
He over-shot the green on 17 and played for a bogey four to give himself a couple of shots to play with, going on to 18.
Mickelson's tee-shot on the last found the rough, but his iron approach was nerveless.
He found the heart of the green. He knew, the crowd knew and the millions watching at home knew.
We were watching golf history in the making, and it was a joy to behold.
- -6 Phil Mickelson
- -4 Brooks Koepka, Louis Ousthuizen
- -2 Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry, Paul Casey, Harry Higgs