n arrival at Kiawah Island, Phil Mickelson was not part of the conversation for likely PGA champions. Now the 50-year-old has realistic aspirations to complete the career Grand Slam at next month’s US Open.
Little had suggested Mickelson would be in the reckoning come Sunday. He was tied for 69th at his last tournament and missed two cuts at the three preceding tournaments.
But in his 113th Major appearance, he became the oldest winner of one of golf’s big four in the history of the game and has his sights set on further history making – becoming only the sixth player in history to seal a clean sweep of Majors.
Looking ahead to Torrey Pines, which hosts the US Open from June 17 by which point Mickelson will be 51, he said: “I do believe that if I stay sharp mentally I can play well at Torrey Pines.
“I’ll take two weeks off before that and go out to Torrey and spend time on the greens and really try to be sharp for that week because I know that I’m playing well and this could very well be my last really good opportunity to win a US Open. So, I’m going to put everything I have into it.”
To date, only Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. This year will be Mickelson’s 30th US Open, an event in which he has finished runner-up a remarkable six times.
He had been handed a special invitation to be part of the field prior to his PGA Championship win earning him automatic qualification for all four Majors for the next five years, a period of time in which he might have had aspirations to transition to the seniors tour.
But despite his age, Mickelson, who had dropped outside the world’s top 100 for the first time since 1993, said: “I believed for a long time that I could play at this level again.
“I didn’t see why I couldn’t but I wasn’t executing the way I believed I could and, with the help of a lot of people, I’ve been able to make progress. I’m striking it and playing as well as I ever have.”
He had started the final round as the overnight leader and held off the joint challenge of Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen for a final round of 73, which gave him a two-shot victory, the sixth Major victory of his career and his first for eight years.
Julius Boros had been the previous oldest Major winner when victorious at the same event in 1968 at the age of 48.
But Mickelson comfortably eclipsed that, leaving just 11 players with more career Majors to their name.
There were some typical moments of sublime skill – a chip into the hole from the bunker on the fifth and a 366-yard drive on the 16th – to keep the chasing pack at bay.
There were wobbles too – a four-stroke lead on the back nine partly eroded by him finding the water on the 13th but not enough to derail his historic win.