Phil Mickelson Wins the P.G.A. Championship

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Weathering a riveting, curler coaster take a look at of nerve over 5 hours, Phil Mickelson, who turns 51 subsequent month, gained the P.G.A. Championship by two strokes on Sunday to develop into the oldest golfer to win a significant championship. The report was beforehand held by Julius Boros, who was 48 when he gained the 1968 P.G.A. Championship.

Mickelson shot six beneath par for the match, ending forward of the runners-up, Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen.

Mickelson turns into the newest in a rising group of sports activities stars who’ve defied conventional retirement ages for athletes and proved that championships can nonetheless be gained in careers that final into center age. Mickelson has adopted the lead of Tom Brady, who gained his seventh Super Bowl three months in the past at 43. Serena Williams has remained constantly in the hunt for elite titles at 39, an age that traditionally has seen tennis gamers recede to a senior circuit. Tiger Woods, though significantly injured in a February automotive crash, gained his fifth Masters match two years in the past at 43.

Mickelson’s achievement, his sixth main title, might show to be a bookend to a few a long time in golf’s highlight. A four-time school all-American, he gained his first skilled match whereas nonetheless an newbie and was unable to money the hefty examine for his accomplishment. After turning professional, he racked up victories on the PGA Tour, however quickly turned higher identified for his failure to win his first main championship.

Mickelson has additionally had the misfortune of enjoying most of his profession in the shadow of the famous person Woods, who gained six main championships earlier than he was 26. But Mickelson didn’t break by way of till he was 33, when he claimed the 2004 Masters throughout his 13th yr on tour. Two different Masters championships adopted, in 2006 and 2010, in addition to a victory at the 2005 P.G.A. Championship, however there have been additionally frequent, dispiriting setbacks, together with six second-place finishes at the United States Open, American golf’s nationwide championship. Before Sunday’s victory at the treacherous Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, Mickelson had not gained a significant since the 2013 British Open.

Mickelson, nevertheless, has remained enormously in style, partly due to a daring type of play and due to his Everyman physique, which stands in stark distinction to the match, muscular our bodies of the fashionable golfer greatest typified by Woods. Known as Lefty as a result of he swings at a golf ball left-handed — despite the fact that he’s naturally right-handed — Mickelson has spent a long time comfortably participating with golf galleries, typically utilizing a smile and a thumbs-up, a gesture he realized from Arnold Palmer.

Mickelson’s rush up the leaderboard at this P.G.A. Championship was not foreshadowed by his latest performances in different occasions. Since lacking the lower finally yr’s U.S. Open, his greatest outcome on the PGA Tour had been a tie for 21st. He completed outdoors the high 50 9 instances.

Playing in darkish sun shades and with an air of calm, Mickelson started Sunday’s spherical with a one-stroke lead over Koepka, who completed the occasion in a tie for second place with Oosthuizen at 4 beneath par.

But lengthy earlier than Mickelson’s triumphant final result was sure, he was locked in a tense, topsy-turvy battle, first with Koepka after which in the closing holes with Oosthuizen.

While Mickelson appeared to have a snug four-shot lead over the discipline with six holes to play, his second shot at the 13th gap hooked right into a water hazard, which led to an unnerving bogey. On the par-Three 14th gap, Mickelson got here up brief and proper of the inexperienced. He chipped to eight ft, however missed the par putt for an additional bogey.

Almost concurrently, Oosthuizen made two steadying pars at the 14th and 15th holes to drag inside three strokes of Mickelson, who was at six beneath par for the match. Mickelson made par at the 15th gap, however Oosthuizen birdied the par-5 16th gap — his eagle putt narrowly missed — to chop Mickelson’s result in two strokes.

But Mickelson responded with a par on the 15th gap, then hit a towering 337-yard drive to the center of the 16th fairway. His second shot bounced on the inexperienced however skipped off the again. A dicey chip nestled subsequent to the gap for a simple birdie, and Mickelson headed to the hardest gap on the longest golf course in main championship historical past with a three-shot lead.

Mickelson’s 6-iron from the 17th tee took a giant bounce simply to the left of the gap and trundled into knee-high grass behind the inexperienced 60 ft from the flagstick. After a number of minutes of deliberation, Mickelson wedged his ball safely on the placing floor, the place he two-putted for a bogey that also stored him two strokes in the lead.

At the closing gap, Mickelson rocketed his tee shot into the gallery left of the fairway, however he lofted a 9-iron from the tough to inside 16 ft of the gap as the crowd roared its approval. Mickelson walked towards the inexperienced shaking his left fist above his shoulder. As he did, he was enveloped by a surge of lots of of followers, who ran previous safety guards and the police to have fun alongside Mickelson.

Hugged, jostled and patted on the again, Mickelson took a couple of minutes to stroll the closing 50 yards to the 18th inexperienced. With spectators chanting his first identify, he lastly emerged to a inexperienced encircled by the crowd.

Mickelson later referred to as the expertise “slightly unnerving” and “awesome.”

Two putts, the final a tap-in, ensued to safe the championship, and Mickelson shared a protracted embrace together with his brother and caddie, Tim.

Hours earlier, in the center of a sunny, humid day alongside the South Carolina shoreline, Mickelson had taken a intestine punch to his probabilities when Koepka wrested the lead from him on the opening gap. In a matter of minutes, a three-putt bogey by Mickelson and a Koepka birdie had reversed the names atop the leaderboard. But Koepka gave away that benefit when he botched an method shot and a pitch on the par-5 second gap, which led to a double bogey.

The two, in the closing group on the course, parried for the lead throughout the entrance 9, though Mickelson pushed forward by two strokes as the duo made the flip. Koepka then fell additional again with successive bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes.