Phil Mickelson turns into oldest main winner

Phil Mickelson

Cameron Costa | CNBC

Phil Mickelson defied the chances to grow to be the oldest main champion in historical past as he overcame a nervy back-nine to clinch a memorable two-shot victory on the 103rd PGA Championship.

Mickelson was 5 photographs away from the sector till errors on the twelfth and thirteenth provided hope to Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen, however the left-hander was to not denied his place within the file books as he had his title etched on the Wanamaker Trophy for the second time, and matched the six main hauls of Sir Nick Faldo and Lee Trevino.

The lengthy and punishing Ocean Course at Kiawah Island was tamed by a person simply over three weeks shy of his 51st birthday, though he was given a serving to hand by some uncharacteristic errors from enjoying associate Koepka, whereas Irish duo Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry each closed with 69s and simply missed out on a podium end.

Mickelson made par at solely one of many first seven holes, however three bogeys and three birdies — together with a trademark chip-in from the sand on the quick fifth which set the pulses racing — have been sufficient to maintain him at seven below with Koepka dropping three photographs on the two par-fives on the entrance 9.

Koepka seemed favourite to gather his third victory in 4 years when he birdied the primary solely to go off the overwhelmed monitor on the lengthy second, the place he wanted 5 photographs to hit the inexperienced earlier than two-putting for a double-bogey seven as Mickelson’s birdie accomplished a three-shot swing.

The 2-time champion blocked out the roars from Mickelson’s unlikely birdie at 5 to make an excellent three on the sixth, however he gave that straight again with a bogey on the subsequent after Mickelson chipped to 10 ft and rolled within the putt for his third birdie of the day.

Two strong pars took Mickelson to the flip in 36 and he edged additional forward with one other assured putt for birdie at 10 simply as Koepka started an ill-timed slide down the leaderboard, dropping three photographs in 4 holes together with one other six on the par-five eleventh.

With Koepka heading within the mistaken route, Oosthuizen immediately emerged as the largest risk to the 50-year-old fan favorite, however the South African’s birdie at 12 was swiftly forgotten when he made a large number of the thirteenth — stabbing again to the green after a poor drive earlier than blocking his third into the water.

The ensuing double-bogey appeared to pave the way in which for a Mickelson procession down the stretch, however the strain of main a serious started to take a toll on the seasoned veteran, who tugged his method to 13 into the drink and did nicely to scramble a 5, and he was unable to stand up and down for par after developing quick along with his tee shot to 14.

However Mickelson, who spoke on Saturday evening of the necessity to keep focus and sharpness, regrouped with a strong par at 15 adopted by a priceless birdie on the subsequent, the place his mammoth 366-yard drive was the longest of the week on the ultimate par-five.

Koepka, in the meantime, stored his slim hopes alive with birdies at 15 and 16 to go away Mickelson three clear heading to the fearsome seventeenth, the place Oosthuizen made par earlier than narrowly lacking out on a 3 on the final, signing for a 73 and a rating of 4 below par – his fifth main runner-up end.

Mickelson took the water out of play as he hammered his long-iron over the again of the seventeenth inexperienced, the place he was content material to take three to get down with Koepka holing a clutch putt for par that stored him two again with simply the 72nd gap to play.

The champion-elect was taking nothing as a right when he pushed his drive into the left tough with Koepka properly positioned on the green, however Mickelson had one final magical shot in his locker, knocking his method to the guts of the inexperienced to make the victory stroll quite a bit much less anxious.

Surrounded by 1000’s of followers in scenes just like Tiger Woods profitable the Tour Championship in 2018, Mickelson stored his composure in verify whereas Koepka closed out a disappointing 74, lagging as much as the hole-side and tapping in for his second in historical past – a 73 sufficient for a profitable rating of six below par.

Harrington, who will be part of Mickelson among the many senior ranks when he turns 50 in August, eagled the second and chipped in for birdie on the 14th on his technique to his finest end in a serious since 2012, and his finest end result within the PGA since his victory at Oakland Hills in 2008.

The European Ryder Cup captain shared fourth place with Lowry on two below par after the Open champion missed an excellent probability from six ft on the final for a 68, whereas the charismatic Harry Higgs fired a creditable 70 to file his career-best end in a serious.

Paul Casey made it a four-way tie for fourth with a five-birdie 71, with Justin Rose (67), defending champion Collin Morikawa (68) and Jon Rahm (68) additionally forcing their approach into the highest 10 with Abraham Ancer, whose 65 was the low spherical of the championship.

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