Chaos as 50yo freak does the unthinkable
Golf fans lost their minds as a 50-year-old Phil Mickelson became the sport's oldest ever major winner.
The American secured a memorable victory at the PGA Championship, ending at six-under to finish two shots clear of Louis Oosthuizen and Brooks Koepka for his sixth major title - and first since the British Open in 2013.
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Mickelson takes the age record off Julius Boros, who was the previous oldest major winner at 48 when he succeeded at the 1968 PGA Championship.
There were incredible scenes at the 18th hole as the crowd went wild, desperate to revel in Mickelson's astonishing achievement.
Phil Mickelson is in there somewhere... pic.twitter.com/EWqvZEWafl— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) May 23, 2021
What an incredible scene! Phil Mickelson had to be ushered through a throng of fans on the 18th fairway to finish off his PGA Championship victory. Phil played remarkably well given all the pressure of trying to become golf’s oldest major winner. Congrats Lefty! https://t.co/qxndeTeToA— Mark Schanowski (@MarkSchanowski) May 23, 2021
Ranked 115th in the world heading into the event, Mickelson became the lowest-ranked major champion since Shaun Micheel (169) claimed the 2003 PGA Championship.
The age-defying American left-hander took the $AUD2.7 million top prize with a stunning shotmaking display on the windy Ocean Course. He holed a 50-foot chip for birdie at the par-3 fifth and was grinding in a tension-packed fight at windy Kiawah Island as the final round kicked off.
Mickelson made the turn on 7-under for the tournament, with four-time major winner Koepka and South Africa's Oosthuizen on 5-under and American Kevin Streelman fourth on 3-under at the formidable course, which was the longest layout in major history at 7200m.
Social media was lighting up in support of Mickelson as fans cheered the veteran home. He even out-drove the biggest hitter on tour, golf hulk Bryson DeChambeau, with a 366-yard tee shot - three yards longer than DeChambeau's best effort of the week - on the 16th hole to record the longest drive of the tournament.
Mickelson's ball sailed past Koepka's and the internet loved it.
Golf writer Alex Myers tweeted: "A 50-year-old Phil Mickelson holding a two-shot lead on the 70th hole of a major just blasted a drive past Brooks Koepka. What a legend."
ESPN's Tom VanHaaren wrote: "It's wild to me that 50-year-old Phil Mickelson is bombing 324 carry drives on the 16th hole, Sunday at the PGA Championship. I played this morning and had to have a snack on 13 so I didn't get tired."
Journalist Sal Castaneda added: "50-year-old Phil Mickelson driving 366 yards from the tee warms my heart."
Mickelson began on 7-under with a one-stroke lead over Koepka, but missed a 13-foot par putt at the first hole while Koepka curled in a 12-footer for birdie to seize the lead.
It was short-lived thanks to Koepka's double-bogey disaster at the par-5 second, where he hit a tree left off the tee and botched a greenside chip from sand while Mickelson pitched inches from the cup and tapped-in for birdie to grab a two-stroke lead.
Mickelson left a 30-foot par putt inches short to bogey the third but holed his magnificent chip-in at the fifth to restore his edge to two.
At the sixth, Koepka dropped his approach to three feet and birdied while Mickelson missed the green and made bogey, leaving the last-pair partners deadlocked at the top at 6-under.
Mickelson birdied the par-5 seventh to return to 7-under while Koepka made another par-5 stumble, salvaging bogey after finding sand and rough to fall two adrift.
Both closed the front side with back-to-back pars as the intense atmosphere moved to the back nine, which had played hardest all week.
Before today Mickelson was 3-for-5 in majors with 54-hole leads or shared leads, winning at the 2004 and 2006 Masters and 2005 PGA but sharing second at the 2006 and 2013 US Opens.
His other major wins came at the 2010 Masters and the 2013 British Open. With 16 years since his PGA Championship victory, Mickelson now owns the longest gap between wins at the same major after collecting the Wanamaker Trophy.
Mickelson's spectacular shotmaking in blustery conditions sparked the biggest cheers from a crowd limited to 10,000 people by COVID-19 safety measures.
Koepka, fighting through pain to play after right knee surgery two months ago, failed in his bid to become the 20th player to win a fifth career major after taking the 2017 and 2018 US Opens and the 2018 and 2019 PGAs.
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, who won the 2012 PGA at Kiawah, grinded out a 72 to finish on 293.
Originally published as Chaos as 50yo freak does the unthinkable