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Sport| Age Is Just A Number For Phil Mickelson

Last month saw another feather get added to the cap of Phil Mickelson. The 50-year-old Hall of Famer San Diegan, who had five majors under his belt prior to the 2021 PGA Championship, triumphed over Louis Oosthuizen and Brooks Koepka to become the oldest golfer to win a major and only the eighth player to register a win on the PGA Tour after fiftieth birthday.

It wasn’t all rosy for Mickelson as he failed to connect a few of his big shots but he held his nerve in the final round to get his name registered in the record books. The top highlights of the game were Mickelson’s shot out of the sand that was struck with such a brute force which – as sports columnist Mac Engel wrote in his column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram – made it feel like that “it was Koepka who looked like 50, and Phil was 30 again”. Mickelson’s astonishing 366-yard tee shot on the 16th was also the longest of the week. The first seven holes yielded three bogeys for left-handed Mickelson who kicked off the final round with a one-shot lead but he birdied thrice to offset those bogeys.

The winning shot was when he two-putted, that propelled him to become the oldest golfer to win a major and eclipse the world record set by the then 48-year-old Julius Boros in the PGA Championship at Pecan Valley in 1968. Ranked a lowly 115th coming into the championship, the victory saw him move 83 places up to the 32nd spot in world rankings. In doing so, he also joined the elite club of top golfers like Sir Nicholas Alexander Faldo (who was ranked No. 1 on the Official World Golf Ranking for more than one-and-a-half years) and Lee Trevino (renowned as one of the all-time great players to step on a golf course) who have won six majors during their careers.

Instantly after the scores were finalized, a swarm of fans erupted to cheer Phil and social media was inundated with messages congratulating him for his historic achievement.

Elated after an emphatic win, the 50-year-old called on others to draw inspiration from his record-shattering performance. “I hope that others find that inspiration. It might take a little extra work, a little bit harder effort to maintain physically or maintain the skills but, gosh, is it worth it,” Mickelson said. “This is just an incredible feeling because I just believed that it was possible but yet everything was saying it wasn’t.”

Although Phil is a late bloomer who had done little of note until the 2004 Masters Tournament, he did not let his age wear on him. In 2010, he was diagnosed with incurable psoriatic arthritis but Phil ‘The Thrill’ refused to cow down. During his younger days in Arizona State University, he was dubbed as the next Jack Nicklaus. Regardless of the sport, one of the dreams of every athlete is to live up to their expectations. For Mickelson, this dream came true when his outstanding performance earned plaudits from Nicklaus.

“There is something strikes me; 50-years-old is older than 46. Well done my friend,” Mickelson tweeted.

99 out of the top 100 players in the world golf rankings participated in 2021 PGA Championship. To overcome the challenge and win a major at the ripe age of 50 is phenomenal. And Mickelson delivered this performance at Ocean Course in Kiawah Island which is consistently ranked by Golf Digest’s panelists as the ‘toughest’ golf course. Considering that, his performance is a shining testament to his resilience, bouncebackability and above all the extraordinary skill he possesses.

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Naya Daur