KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Phil Mickelson loves the banter, loves the competition, loves golf. That would seemingly be a prerequisite for greatness, but it is hardly a common trait among the elite. It’s why careers fade away, why glory is fleeting.
Lefty never lost that passion, which is why on Sunday at the PGA Championship he became the oldest major champion in the game’s storied history.
Mickelson is 50, but still acts like a kid. He takes on players half his age and relishes beating them, getting into their pockets in money games. Then he tells the world all about it. And when the calendar kept turning, Mickelson never gave in to the clock on the wall, instead choosing to fight back and stay relevant.
He is the first player in his 50s to claim one of golf’s grandest prizes. To say anyone saw this coming at the beginning of the week would be like spitting into the Kiawah Island wind.
Rickie Fowler, 18 years younger and a frequent playing companion of Mickelson’s, took in the euphoric scene in front of the Ocean Course clubhouse late Sunday as thousands of fans chanted the PGA champion’s name. Fowler marveled at the accomplishment.
“It’s the same way I talk about Tiger [Woods], they’re both golf nerds,” Fowler said. “I got to spend some time with Phil the week before he went to (the Valspar Championship) and he was just playing a bunch of golf. Because we were in carts, you could play as many holes as you wanted. He just wanted to go play.