For a sport known for being rather demure, scenes at the recent US PGA Championship were anything but reserved. When Phil Mickelson made his final putt, crowds erupted. There were tears, there were ebullient cries of joy and euphoria. For anyone witnessing either in the crowd or at home, it became clear that this was a moment that would live on in the sport. It was, after all, historic.
Few could have anticipated that Mickelson would claim victory, but the golfer always looks to defy the odds. He held his nerve during one of the more difficult and competitive courses to shoot a final-round 73 and be crowned the PGA Championship winner. In doing so, Mickelson becomes the oldest men’s major winner, trumping Julius Boros who won the 1968 PGA at the age of 48.
Mickelson said of his victory, “It’s very possible that this is the last tournament I ever win. Like if I’m being realistic. But it’s also very possible that I may have had a little bit of a breakthrough in some of my focus and maybe I go on a little bit of a run, I don’t know. But the point is that there’s no reason why I or anybody else can’t do it at a later age. It just takes a little bit more work.”
In taking victory, Mickelson adds another PGA title to a growing collection. He won the PGA back in 2005, and has six majors to his name as well as 45 PGA Tour victories. In an already long and illustrious career, this win stands out amongst the others as something profound and memorable, stretching beyond the realm of golf to become a story of inspiration for anyone who has ever feared it’s too late to pursue their dreams.
“Certainly, one of the moments I’ll cherish my entire life,” said Mickelson. “I don’t know how to describe the feeling of excitement and fulfilment and accomplishment to do something when – you know, of this magnitude – when very few people thought that I could.”
Reflecting on the course and what he achieved, Mickelson said: “I just believed that it was possible but yet everything was saying it wasn’t. 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 in the end.” He added, “I just love this game of golf. I love what I do and I love the challenge of competing against such players.”
Now, Mickelson will turn to the U.S Open at Torrey Pines next month. Though many scoffed at his desire to compete, we can only hope the impressive run for Mickelson continues and that he might just win the career Grand Slam that has eluded him.