The Golf Monthly forum discusses Lefty's historic PGA Championship victory at Kiawah Island...
Where Would You Rank Mickelson’s Major Win At 50?
On Sunday we witnessed the conclusion to one of the most dramatic major weeks in recent memory as Phil Mickelson became the first over-50 player to land a big one.
He did it with an all-round display of brilliance, beating off a stellar leaderboard and an Ocean Course that provided a fantastic set-up.
So how do we think it compared to the other great major weeks and, particularly, to that Tiger win at Augusta two years ago?
We asked our forum members...
Where Would You Rank Mickelson’s Major Win At 50?
This is one of the best major wins of all time for me. He was big outsider in the lead up, recent major performances were suggesting he was done, and throw in the record breaking and history made with his age! An incredible achievement from Phil!
However, Tiger's Masters return 2019 still the best ever.
The course was set up like an Open Championship, and in The Open, short and long, wild and accurate players can all compete. Harrington did well, and he hasn't had such a high finish in a major in about 10 years (although he has missed a few majors in that time). It was an encouraging major for the oldies amongst us, but I think we'll be back to the usual story soon. For me, it doesn't quite match the almost shock of Tom Watson at Turnberry. I think there will be a lot of money wasted now betting on Phil Mick for the US Open in his backyard at Torrey. That will be a different challenge., though.
Like the majority of people I had written him off and thought he would move on and have a bit of fun on the Champions Tour. His major chances were gone even though he would make appearances based on past wins. It was a fantastic performance. A mix of steely nerve and excellent choice off the tee. He really deserved it.
Second only to Tiger's win at the Masters for me. Amazing achievement.
Exceptional performance on one of the hardest courses, he did what Butch Harmon has been asking him to do for years, apparently – "Calm down off the tee. It not all distance.” He was not the usual Phil spraying it about. You could see the slow walking, and concentration etc.
And at his age. Maybe forever , he is now the oldest to win a Major. With all the brilliant youngsters coming along, will this ever be changed? And, in the middle of it, he gave a few moments to a disabled boy- gave him a ball, I think - a wonderful gesture. Class!
On the distance thing he can clearly still rip it on occasion and out-drove Brooks on a couple of holes. The drive on the 18th was wild but to be expected given the amount of adrenaline.
He's certainly shown in flashes with individual rounds in tournaments that he can compete with the very best; I really didn't think he'd be able to do it over four days but he was slower, methodical and focused. Given the pace Koepka plays at, big Phil probably got in his head a bit. It doesn't surpass lots of others, including Tiger’s win at the Masters or even Rory’s win in darkness leapfrogging Phil in 2014 or Stenson’s Open but at 50, it's a great accomplishment.
A close 2nd to Tiger's 2019 win at the Masters in my personal rankings. Tremendous performance at 50.
But I don't really get the whole "good old Phil" thing. Yes, he signs for the spectators but his public castigation of Tom Watson at the Ryder Cup in 2014, hitting the moving ball, moaning about Paris National and allegedly less than perfect conduct in his financial dealings suggest to me that he isn't really the nice guy he tries to portray. Wonderful golfer, none better around the greens but a less than stellar person for me.
In terms of a performance, it was outstanding. A tough course in tough conditions which he managed exceedingly well. When he gets his head down he can really do it, as he did when he won The Masters. He never looked like he was going to falter. I think Darren Clarke's Open win is another great one. I would say it was one of the great ones, but the greatest is much harder to define.
Great last round in which he did not let the bad shot get to him on most occasions and glad to see him keeping up the concentration. One of the few golfers using a laser himself. Hard to judge really as no one got that close to him after the 1st hole.
It will be a huge confidence boost for him that might see him through the next few years without any self-doubts that he has reached a fading away point as yet. Certainly, there will be more eyes on him this year and next. But brilliant - absolutely brilliant. Major at 51 or over? Well, he will be favourite to be that for a while.
Tigers Masters win 2019 was far more spectacular. Phil is outside the top 100 (I'm sure it's dropped since Sunday) but he's not been written off like Tiger was. Still good for Phil.
I don't know where to place it, obviously winning at 50 hasn't been done before but then the world has changed with fitness and strength so he's not got a limitation of distance stopping him competing. I think very high, but as others have said Woods’ comeback greater. Personally I'd probably rate it below some of the major wins where people have either torn up the field and won by eight shots plus and those where the battle has been so close and of such a high standard like Stenson in the Open. Personally I’d rate a number of other major victories higher.
I think someone will eclipse this and win a major in their 50s. Logical for this to be the case as people are so much fitter through middle age now. I would not be surprised to see Mickleson win another green jacket or Open for example.
My friend’s father retired aged 67 playing off 8/9 handicap. He got down to 3 within a year. Playing on a top-100 ranked links course that is an Open Qualifier. He was still playing single figure well into his 80s. Absolute club legend.
In golf almost anything is possible.
Doon frae Troon
This goes counter to what I would expect; in an era where we're being told distance is everything (or at least of increasing importance), my thinking was that golf would increasingly be a young man's game at the top level. I still think that it probably is, but the opportunity to win will always be there for those that continue to be good drivers of the ball even as they get older. This tournament played like a links tournament, and The Open has thrown up a few surprise winners over the years.
You'd think Phil was a doddery old goat knocking it 150 off the tee the way some are portraying his senior win! He was getting 180mph ball speed on a few drives, which is damn fast! He's still in the top 50 for driving distance and averages over 300 yaRds, this week he managed to keep most of them within the bouNdaries of the course.
Just goes to show that there is more to the game than the fixation on distance. His ball control and course management were superb over the four days.
I can’t help feeling the waste areas weren't as penal as they were made out to be. A lot was said about no rakes but was it really an issue? Many times players missed the fairway and they had a pretty simple shot off flattish sand. I'd like to have seen the sand resemble the surface of the moon. Then we would have had some real carnage and penalties for missing the fairway.
You have to hand it to Phil. Unreal short-game exhibition for the most. Topping the charts off the tee takes some doing for a man who normally looks like he has no clue where the ball is going. Brooks let the final round down but can be forgiven since he is carrying a pretty serious knee injury. Many big names didn’t show or grind it out.
Both Phil & Tiger are behind Jack for me; a last round of 65 (-7) and a back 9 of 30 (-6) to take the 1986 Masters.
Blue in Munich
I will go against the grain of this thread - 50 is not that old. The advancement of technology in the balls and clubs have negated a lot of the bias against older players. Mickelson played well, and was a worthy winner, but when Stenson beat him at the Open I think Mickelson's performance was better, never mind Stenson's. And that is only one. Off the top of my head, and without Googling, Tiger Woods winning at Pebble Beach early in the 21st century by about 13 shots is the most impressive for me.
I think most people thought he was over as a 'force' so to speak - good for a few highlights but ultimately too wild off the tee these days to threaten. But to contend and then win a major at 50, fighting off someone like Brooks on the Sunday as well, superb.
On the one hand, he finally dialled back some of the tee shots as people have been saying he should do for years. But on the other hand, I read that he was using a maximum-length driver with around 5° of loft, so he's basically gone full Bryson without anyone making such a big deal about it, because I suppose they never expected it to matter that much what Phil was doing. But then he goes and gets the longest drive of the week on the Sunday (albeit very wind assisted). He obviously knew his golf game was still strong enough, he just needed to find a way to focus better for the whole four days, and he succeeded in doing that. He's a wily old dog. Tiger coming back and winning the Masters after all his surgeries and personal issues was still better though.
When Tiger comes back again and wins that will top everything. Pleased for Phil he got the job done and you can only beat what’s in front of you.
Not really put under immense pressure and the best final rounds were lower down the field, however he did beat one of the great major players at what really was a head to head.
I think that as well as praising Mickelson for the win, we should recognise Koepka for managing a runners-up spot in a major just months after undergoing knee surgery. Also very impressive.
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