A thrilling 2021 PGA Championship met an extraordinary conclusion Sunday afternoon as Phil Mickelson became the oldest major championship winner in golf history with his 6-under 282 giving him a two-stroke victory over Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen (-4) for the Wanamaker Trophy. Mickelson, 50, is now just the 14th man to win six or more majors in his career.
A 200-1 longshot entering the 103rd PGA Championship on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, Mickelson won his sixth major an astounding 2,863 days after his last with a final-round 1-over 73. It is just the third tournament he has won over the last eight years since taking the 2013 Open Championship and the first time he finished better than T71 at the PGA Championship since 2016.
At 50 years, 11 months and seven days old, Mickelson broke the previous record long held by Julius Boros, who won the PGA Championship at 48 years, four months and 18 days old in 1968. Lefty is three weeks shy of his 51st birthday and will be another year older when he makes a run at the U.S. Open, the lone major he has yet to win and one that has kept him from capturing the career grand slam.
The co-leader through 36 holes and solo leader through 54 holes, Mickelson had a dramatic start to his final round with three birdies and three bogeys over the front nine. He lost, tied and regained the lead before opening a five-stroke advantage at 8 under through the 12th. From there, he was never fewer than two strokes clear of the field down the stretch.
The most memorable moment of Mickelson’s unforgettable weekend came Sunday on the par-3 5th when he holed out from a sandy area to an incredible ovation. Lefty had been 1 over on the day before that incredible shot dropped.
By the time Mickelson called the tournament down the stretch Sunday, he had achieved 22 birdies — a personal record at a PGA Championship — and his first overall victory since he took the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February 2019.
Mickelson was bombarded by fans as he walked up the 18th green after a beautiful approach shot. He two-putted for par to win. The gallery roared, Lefty lifted his hands in victory, and the celebration commenced.
Let’s recap the top of the 2021 PGA Championship leaderboard.
1. Phil Mickelson (-6): No golfer age 50 or older had won a major championship until Mickelson’s win at Kiawah Island. And while he certainly kept things interesting — bogeys on Nos. 1, 3, 13 and 14 specifically made it feel like the tourney was up for the taking — it never really was anyone’s tournament this weekend but Lefty’s. He crushed his drives all week with precision and came up with the putts he needed in spots he needed them. Mickelson outdrove Brooks Koepka head-to-head and even bested Bryson DeChambeau on a few holes. As pressure mounted late, he played smart golf, settling for bars and the occasional bogey in order to ensure his aggressiveness did not result in more damning mistakes. It was vintage golf from a Hall of Famer, and it resulted in his second career PGA Championship and sixth career major championship, something only 13 other golfers in history have accomplished.
T2. Louis Oosthuizen (-4): After sharing the 36-hole lead with the eventual champion, Oosthuizen battled through the weekend to stay on Mickelson’s heels with a runner-up finish — his second at the PGA Championship and fifth in major championships of his career. If things had broken right for him in Round 4 on a few spots, maybe he’s the victor. But a double bogey on the 13th sapped what felt like his final chance at a late run.
T2. Brooks Koepka (-4): Coming off of hole No. 1, where Mickelson bogeyed and Koepka birdied, it looked as if Koepka might run away with it. But a double bogey on No. 2 for him was a real momentum killer. Koepka, as he does, fought back and tied for the lead later in the front nine. But three bogeys in his first four to open the back blew him down the leaderboard while Mickelson played the stretch at even-par. How Koepka was able to grind out a T2 finish is nonetheless remarkable. He had knee surgery in March and missed the cut at the Masters and Byron Nelson, the only two events he played prior to this weekend. He remains one of the Clydesdale’s on the tour and he’s a few shots away from a third career PGA Championship at 31 years old.
T4. Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry, Paul Casey, Harry Higgs (-2): Harrington and Lowry posted the low rounds of this bunch, moving up 19 spots on the leaderboard with matching 69s to close their respective weeks. Harrington’s big weekend finish punctuates a big tournament showing for the elder statesmen of golf, as the 49-year-old and 2008 PGA Champion rose to the occasion Sunday. It was Lowry’s best finish at a PGA Championship.
T8. Collin Morikawa, Abraham Ancer, Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Will Zalatoris, Kevin Streelman, Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau (-1): Reigning PGA Champion Collin Morikawa narrowly made the weekend cut and struggled Saturday before a final-round 68 to backdoor a top-10. Ancer had the round of the week with a 7-under 65. And Fowler, who needed an exemption to make an appearance this weekend, showed real fight to earn his first top-10 showing in 16 months.