Perhaps Phil Mickelson’s ability on a golf course, the body of work he has established over more than three decades in the public eye, have gotten lost or diminished the past few years. That is why this PGA Championship, so unlikely because it made him the oldest major champion ever at age 50, means so much.
He hadn’t won since 2019 at Pebble Beach, hadn’t lifted a major championship trophy since 2013 at Muirfield. Since September, he missed six cuts. In the eight in which he was around for the weekend, he never once finished in the top 20. He had fallen outside the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He started needing special exemptions just to get a spot in major championship fields.
Hey, other greats have gone through slumps — Tiger Woods went five years between wins and 11 between majors. Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, once destined to be their generation’s Tiger and Phil, haven’t picked up a big one in seven and four years, respectively. It happens. Golf ain’t easy.
“The difficulty is when you’re on a plateau and you’re not really making advancements and you’re putting in the work and putting in the work and you’re not seeing the results, to stay consistent and to stay committed,” Mickelson, 50, said on the eve of last month’s Masters, one of the few times lately he has sat to answer questions, to really reflect on where he was, where he is and where he wants to go.