Phil Mickelson went from surprise contender to unlikely champion on Sunday at Kiawah, capping a remarkable and record-breaking performance with his second PGA Championship victory. Here’s everything you need to know:
Leaderboard: Phil Mickelson (-6), Louis Oosthuizen (-4), Brooks Koepka (-4), Shane Lowry (-2), Padraig Harrington (-2), Harry Higgs (-2), Paul Casey (-2)
How it happened: After the first hole, which Mickelson bogeyed and Koepka birdied, it looked as if Koepka would soon be on his way to equaling Mickelson’s five major titles. But Mickelson didn’t back down and captured his sixth. While many expected the 50-year-old to finally get sideways amidst a new wind direction on Sunday and cough up the Wanamaker Trophy, Mickelson instead remained sturdy, negating three bogeys in his first seven holes with three birdies, and watching Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen and others fall back.
Koepka doubled the par-5 second, and after playing the par-5s in 9 under the first three rounds, he was 3 over on those holes in the final round. A lipped-out shortie for par at No. 11 officially dashed Koepka’s winning hopes. Oosthuizen later got to within three shots after a birdie on No. 12, but he then made double bogey after hitting his third shot into the water at the par-4 13th. Mickelson led by five shots after that water ball, and despite a splash at No. 13 of his own, Mickelson never led by less than two.
Oosthuizen missed an eagle putt at the par-5 16th that would've gotten him to within a shot, and moments later Mickelson bombed the longest drive of the week at No. 16, 366 yards, to set up another birdie and get back to three shots clear. A bogey-par finish – and closing 1-over 73 – was plenty good enough, as Mickelson closed out the win with a massive crowd surrounding the green.
What it means: Mickelson is now the oldest major winner in the history of the sport, supplanting Julius Boros, who won the PGA in 1968 at age 48. Mickelson’s triumph was even more surprising considering he’d basically done nothing in majors since his runner-up to Henrik Stenson at the 2016 Open Championship and, at No. 115 in the world rankings, he needed a special exemption just to get into next month’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Now, of course, he’s now in at least the next five U.S. Opens after this win.
Round of the day: More like the round of the week. Abraham Ancer carded seven birdies, no bogeys and shot 65 to earn himself a T-8 finish, his first major top-10.
Shot of the day: Mickelson was clinging to a one-shot lead when he found the sand off the tee at the par-3 fifth. But he holed the bunker shot and delivered this championship’s iconic image, a putter raise, and never looked back.
Biggest disappointment: It’s hard to say Koepka considering many counted him out this week because of a knee injury, and there are plenty of other candidates, but if you consider who will be the most mad exiting Kiawah on Sunday evening, it’s no doubt Koepka after his 74 and co-runner-up.