One year ago: After charges by Brooks Koepka and others, Phil Mickelson shocked the world at the 103rd PGA Championship

There was much about the 103rd playing of the PGA Championship that felt familiar.

There was much about the 103rd playing of the PGA Championship that felt familiar.

The spectacular Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina was hosting the event for the second time in less than a decade — Rory McIlroy had captured his second major at the Pete and Alice Dye design back in 2012, crushing the field with a devastating demonstration of championship golf.

After a year without spectators (due to the pandemic), PGA of America officials welcomed galleries, albeit smaller ones, back into the fold. It was announced that somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 fans would be able to attend the event, and a buzz started well before the first shot was played. Overall, the game was enjoying a spike in popularity akin to when Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson helped drive the sport decades prior, and this resurgence pushed demand for the few available tickets to an all-time high.

But Woods was still recovering from a near-fatal rollover car crash with fans clinging to hope that he’d again be able to walk. And Mickelson was a handful of weeks from his 51st birthday, so surely he wouldn’t be able to compete with a younger crop of superstars that included McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland, right?

And what about Brooks Koepka, who had hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy two of the three previous years? There was little to believe that Koepka would threaten again after undergoing knee surgery in March. Although the former Florida State star had made appearances at both the Masters and the AT&T Byron Nelson leading up to the PGA Championship, he missed the cut in both events. Koepka’s surgeons had told him he wouldn’t be fully healed until late summer, so expecting him to challenge was a longshot.

But again, this event had a sense of familiarity — and when the first day was done, the four-time major champion toured Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course in 69 shots to grab a share of the early lead. Koepka made six birdies to yet again position himself atop the leaderboard in one of golf’s four more important championships.

“It’s a major. I’m going to show up. I’m ready to play,” Koepka said. “I feel so much better now. I don’t need to be 100 percent to be able to play good.”

“I felt like I already had confidence. In my mind, it’s just a major week. Just show up. That’s all you’ve got to do.”

Over the previous four years, Koepka has shown up for majors more reliably than any of golf’s elite players, although a series of speed-bumps — knee, hip and neck ailments, plus a split with his longtime coach Claude Harmon III — had slowed his charge of late. His opening 69 marked the first time he’d put himself into the frame in a major since last summer’s PGA Championship in San Francisco, a spell in which he missed the U.S. Open due to injury and failed to factor in two Masters.

PGA Championship
Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson look on during the final round of the 2021 PGA Championship held at the Ocean Course of Kiawah Island Golf Resort on May 23, 2021, in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Koepka found only five of 14 fairways in blustery conditions on the Ocean Course but hit 13 of 18 greens, good enough to rank first in Strokes Gained: Approach through the early wave of players. The winds raked across the barrier island, making for tricky playing conditions, and the first-round scoring average when Koepka signed his card was 74.54. Koepka didn’t end the day atop the leaderboard — Corey Conners shot a 67 in the late wave to take those honors — but he did sit in a tie for second in a sextet that included Keegan Bradley, Cam Davis, Sam Horsfield, Viktor Hovland and Aaron Wise

“I love it when it’s difficult. I think that’s why I do so well in the majors,” Koepka said. “I just know mentally I can grind it out. You’ve just got to accept it and move on.”

While Koepka came to the PGA Championship hoping to use fortitude as his main weapon, Conners was hoping to use some of the mathematical acumen he’d picked up while earning a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Mathematics from Kent State University.

The Canadian’s keen decision-making and analysis worked just fine on Thursday as he figured out his way around the Ocean Course in just 67 strokes.

“I’d say it’s impossible to be stress-free around this golf course. You can’t fall asleep out there on any holes. It’s very challenging,” Conners said. “I was fortunate to have a good day. Made it as least stressful as possible on myself. I hit a lot of really good shots and holed some nice putts early in the round, and that really helped boost the confidence. Played with a lot of freedom.”

The Ocean Course was just the most recent big stage in golf that Conners has performed well on. He finished third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, seventh in the Players Championship and tied for eighth in the Masters leading up to the PGA Championship. He’d been a regular on the first page of leaderboards for a few months now while seeking his first major title and second PGA Tour victory. He’d also made a steady rise up the world rankings, climbing from No. 196 when he won the 2019 Valero Texas Open to No. 39 heading into this event.

Corey Conners, of Canada, watches his tee shot on the eighth tee during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament on the Ocean Course Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Kiawah Island, S.C. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

“I have a lot of belief in myself, and I’ve been playing well for quite a while,” Conners said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to play against the best players in the world and put my game to the test. I have a lot of confidence in my game and I’m excited for the rest of the weekend.

“I think one of most important things is the short game around this place,” he said. “A lot of major championships you can’t ball-strike your way to good rounds. You need to have a good short game. You need to get the ball up and down and you need to roll in birdie putts. Good ball-striking definitely helps. The wind and difficulty of the golf course, hitting it solid is very important.”

On Friday, many of the biggest names were sent packing — Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele to name a few — but one of the event’s charms came into the spotlight as PGA teaching professionals Brad Marek and Ben Cook qualified for the weekend.

A 37-year-old teaching pro from the Northern California PGA Section, Marek posted a 1-over 73 Friday and 2-over 146 for the championship (T-32). Cook, 27, PGA Director of Instruction at Yankee Springs Golf Course, in Wayland, Michigan, was leaking oil on the closing stretch of the Pete Dye layout, but managed to par the final two holes to make the cut on the number (72-77—149) for the first time in three appearances.

“It’s been a cool week,” Cook said. “I’m out here on the putting green hitting putts next to my heroes, and I have a great support team here. I feel very blessed.”

Marek, who played college golf at Indiana, competed professionally for nine years on a variety of tours, winning 15 times in that span, including a couple of times on the Dakotas Tour.

PGA Championship
Brad Marek reacts on the first green during the first round of the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Resort’s Ocean Course on May 20, 2021 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

“I chased mini-tours nine or 10 years after college, always with the goal of trying to get out here. Obviously didn’t attain that via the regular route, but as soon as I was done playing, I knew I wanted to be a part of the PGA for the opportunities like this on the playing side,” he said.

Marek, who tied for eighth at his first PGA Professional Championship to earn a spot in this week’s field, runs his own junior golf academy out of Corica Park in Alameda, California, for players with aspirations of playing college golf.

“Everybody in that has a goal of trying to move up to the next level in terms of their golf,” he said.

Speaking as much for Cook as for himself, Marek explained why it was important for two of the 20 club professionals in the field to make the cut.

“Any time one of us can make the cut, I think it’s really good for,” Marek said. “I think there used to be 25 spots in this and it got reduced to 20, so I feel like any time a couple of us can make the cut and represent the PGA well, I think that bodes well for the organization as a whole and just kind of shows the type of players that are at the top level of the PGA of America.”

But the big story of Friday was the familiar charge of Mickelson, whose 23-foot birdie putt dropped into the center of the cup capping a 3-under 69 that gave him the lead after the second round. Mickelson’s putt accentuated a 31 on his second nine that put him at 5-under for the tournament and energized a crowd that was growing with each birdie.

“It’s really fun, obviously, to make a putt on the last hole, finish a round like that and then to have that type of support here has been pretty special,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson had worked through “scar tissue” – something Padraig Harrington, one of his playing partners the opening two days, said 50-somethings must overcome – and of course, the unpredictable challenges of this “diabolical” (DeChambeau’s description) course to put himself in position to accomplish something he had not done in eight years – win a major.

“To be in contention, to have a good opportunity, I’m having a blast,” Mickelson said. “I’m excited for the weekend.”

Two weeks before the event at Kiawah, Mickelson was leading at Quail Hollow in Charlotte after an opening-round 64, but he followed with a 75 and two 76s and subsequently went from leading the tournament to finishing 69th.

He insisted an approach that included long spells of longer meditation and extra practice could make the difference.

“I’m working on it,” he said. “I’m making more and more progress just by trying to elongate my focus. I might try to play 36, 45 holes in a day and try to focus on each shot so that when I go out and play 18, it doesn’t feel like it’s that much. I might try to elongate the time that I end up meditating.

“But I’m trying to use my mind like a muscle and just expand it because as I’ve gotten older, it’s been more difficult for me to maintain a sharp focus, a good visualization and see the shot.”

Louis Oosthuizen
Louis Oosthuizen Saturday at the 2021 PGA Championship. (David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports)

Mickelson wasn’t alone at the top as Louis Oosthuizen’s 68 pushed him into a tie for the lead through two rounds. Koepka posted a 71 and sat just a single shot behind the duo.

On Saturday, after shooting a 68 of his own, Jordan Spieth summed up the post-round sentiment of many of his colleagues. Spieth sounded as if he was channeling “the most interesting man in the world,” from old Dos Equis commercials when he said, “I don’t watch golf, but I promise you I’m going to turn it on to watch (Mickelson).”

“Yeah, it’s Phil, right,” he added. “It’s theatre.”

Dressed in all black like another ageless wonder, Gary Player, and sporting his now-familiar Highway Patrolman shades, the southpaw put on a world-class performance in the third round, threatening to run away with the title before a few stumbles.

He closed with five pars to shoot 2-under 70 and ended the day with a one-stroke lead over Koepka. After sharing the 36-hole lead, the 50-year-old Mickelson charged ahead with four birdies in his first seven holes.

In much more docile conditions, Mickelson sent the crowds into a delirious frenzy. Throaty cheers of “Let’s go Phil,” filled the air making it sound if not like 1999 then at least a pre-COVID world with Mickelson dispensing thumbs up to his fans as if giving out candy on Halloween.

By the time he canned a 7-foot birdie putt at 10 to reach double-digits under par, his lead had swelled to five strokes and Phil’s faithful were ready to crown him champion.

“I felt I had a very clear picture on every shot,” Mickelson said of his torrid start.

But as Spieth pointed out, Mickelson always provides theater and his five-stroke lead faded away as Mickelson hit into a fairway bunker at 12, took his medicine and made bogey, then snap-hooked his tee shot into the drink at 13, had to re-tee and made double bogey. Meanwhile, Oosthuizen made birdies at Nos. 11 and 12, and salvaged a bogey after driving into the water at 13, too. He shot 72 to trail by two and could’ve been even closer if he had made a few putts, including missing a gimme for birdie at 7 and taking three putts from 21 feet at No. 17.

“I think we all got lucky that he came back to the field,” Oosthuizen said of Mickelson.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson celebrates with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning during the final round of the 2021 PGA Championship held at the Ocean Course of Kiawah Island Golf Resort on May 23, 2021 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

With his 70, Mickelson became just the fifth player aged 50 or older to hold at least a share of the lead after three rounds in a major since 1900, joining Tom Watson (2009 Open), Greg Norman (2008 Open), Boros (1973 U.S. Open) and Harry Vardon (1920 U.S. Open).

And as is his wont, Mickelson made Sunday something special.

After sleeping on a one-shot lead, Mickelson, 200-1 to win on Thursday, survived a helter-skelter first 10 holes where he and playing partner Koepka exchanged body blows to the tune of four two-shot swings and one three-shot swing. And then he didn’t stagger despite a few more edge-of-your-seat moments on the back nine.

Mickelson got off to a shaky start with three bogeys in his first six holes, but birdies on 2, 5, 7 and 10 gave him separation from the field and when he took to the 13th tee, he had a 5-shot lead.

He made two consecutive bogeys before righting his ship with a birdie on the 16th and his nearest competitors didn’t get closer than two shots down the stretch.

Thousands of those fans followed him up the fairway and encircled the 18th green when containment was lost by marshals and thundered when Mickelson capped off his triumph by tapping in from six inches.

“Slightly unnerving but exceptionally awesome,” Mickelson said.

Thus, after winning his first PGA Tour title 30 years ago when he stunned the golf world to capture the Northern Telecom Open as a junior at Arizona State University, Mickelson won his 45th. And the man whose plaque has been hanging in the World Golf Hall of Fame for nine years and who has three victories on the PGA Tour Champions didn’t have any problem lifting the 27-pound Wanamaker Trophy for the second time; 16 years ago he won the 2005 PGA Championship.

“This is just an incredible feeling because I just believed that it was possible but yet everything was saying it wasn’t,” Mickelson said. “I hope that others find that inspiration. It might take a little extra work, a little bit harder effort to maintain physically or maintain the skills, but gosh, is it worth it in the end.”

“My desire to play is the same. I’ve never been driven by exterior things. I’ve always been intrinsically motivated because I love to compete, I love playing the game. I love having opportunities to play against the best at the highest level,” said Mickelson.

“That’s what drives me. I just didn’t see why it couldn’t be done. It just took a little bit more effort.”

Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio and Adam Schupak also contributed to this report.

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Brotherly love: Phil Mickelson wins the PGA Championship with brother Tim on the bag

As if setting a major championship record wasn’t enough, Phil Mickelson did it with his brother in his ear and on his bag.

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – In the madness that engulfed the 18th green as Phil Mickelson became golf’s oldest major winner, brother Tim Mickelson made sure to tend the flag and secure it as a prized possession.

“It’s already in the golf bag,” he said.

When it was over and Phil had claimed his sixth major championship at age 50, 11 months and 7 days, he and Tim embraced in one of the long hugs where big brother and little brother tell each other ‘I love you, man.’

Tim called caddying for his brother his third career in the game. First, he was the men’s golf coach at the University of San Diego for eight years and then at Phil’s alma mater, Arizona State, from 2011 to 2016. He left to become an agent for one of his players, Jon Rahm, who had all of the makings of the superstar he has become. Tim served in that role for 17 months until Phil and caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay split in June 2017 after 25 years of working together. What began on an interim basis became official several months later and together they have won five times together – three on the PGA Tour and two on the PGA Tour Champions.

PGA Championship: Scores | Photos | Money | Winner’s bag

But this one was extra special, coming at a time when Phil was largely being written off as finished, turning 68s into 72s.

“As a coach,” Tim said, “I always used to say, ‘It’s all about the process.’ You hope that the results will come when you want them to, but you have to trust that the process will lead you to the promise land.”

And so, Tim kept the faith.

“We all knew it was there, and he actually had told me [two] weeks ago, I think it was right after Charlotte, he said, I am going to win again soon. I just said, ‘Well, let’s just make sure we’re in contention on a Sunday.’ ”

Phil made sure of that shooting rounds of 70-69-70 to claim the 54-hole lead, and Tim remained his brother’s biggest supporter.

“As much as the fans want it, I want it more for my brother,” he said after the second round. “I see how hard he works, not just at tournaments. When he’s home, he’s playing every day. So, I see how much he wants it, and I want to do anything I can to help him have that.”

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He delivered more than just the yardages, wind direction and helping with club choice on Sunday. At the fourth tee, Phil was concerned that the 4-wood he added to the bag at the last minute on Sunday might go too far. But Tim’s reassuring words gave Phil the confidence to commit to the shot.

“I think certainly my brother has played a big part in kind of keeping me present and in the moment and not letting a couple of bad swings affect me here or there, and so I think we’re having so much fun that it’s easy to stay present,” Phil said on Saturday.

When asked after he had captured the Wanamaker Trophy 16 years after he had done so for the first time, how Tim had been critical to his success on Sunday, Phil didn’t even wait for the question to be finished before jumping into his answer.

“I’ll tell you a perfect example, and this is an intangible that makes him relatable or understand me, get the best out of me and makes him a great caddie is I’m walking off 6, I had made some uncommitted swings the first six holes. I had been striking the ball awesome the first three days. I had a wonderful warm up session, like I was ready to go and I made some uncommitted swings the first six holes. He pulled me aside and said, ‘If you’re going to win this thing, you’re going to have to make committed golf swings,’ ” Phil said. “It hit me in the head, I can’t make passive (swings), I can’t control the outcome, I have to swing committed. The first one I made was the drive on 7. Good drive on 7 gave me a chance to get down by the green and make birdie. From there on, I hit a lot of really good shots because I was committed to each one.”

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Later he added, “It was the turning part of the day for me. It was the perfect thing to say.”

Phil said his brother doesn’t say much, but this week Tim estimated he told his brother 200 times to keep a quiet mind.

“I just told him to stop thinking so much. When he would get ahead of himself, I reminded him, ‘Hey, we’ll worry about that when we get there.’ A few stories here and there. Maybe one or two might have been made up, who knows, but anything I can to keep his mind off of the shot that’s coming up when it’s not even our turn to hit,” Tim said.

And so Phil followed in the footsteps of Dustin Johnson who won a major championship (2020 Masters with Austin) with his younger brother on the bag.

Said Phil’s longtime agent Steve Loy: “I mean, he’s now going to all of a sudden be one of the Top-10 players in the history of the game, and his brother is on the bag to share it. That’s as good as it gets.”

So good that it brought Tim to tears.

“To win a major championship at this stage of his career,” Tim said, “I definitely teared up for the first time since caddying for him four and a half years ago.”

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How much money each player won at the PGA Championship

It pays to play well in major championships. Just ask Phil Mickelson.

It pays to play well in major championships, folks. Just ask this week’s winner, Phil Mickelson.

The 50-year-old won the 103rd PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Ocean Course at 6 under by two shots, earning his sixth major championship victory while also becoming the oldest men’s major champion in golf history. Mickelson will turn 51 the week of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in his hometown of San Diego.

Mickelson will take home the famed Wanamaker Trophy, as well as the top prize of $2,160,000 ($180,000 more than Collin Morikawa last year). Runners-up Louis Oosthuizen and Brooks Koepka will each pocket $1,056,000.

Check out how much money each player earned this week at the PGA Championship.

PGA Championship: Leaderboard | Photos

Position Player Score  Earnings
1 Phil Mickelson -6 $2,160,000
T2 Louis Oosthuizen -4 $1,056,000
T2 Brooks Koepka -4 $1,056,000
T4 Padraig Harrington -2 $462,250
T4 Shane Lowry -2 $462,250
T4 Harry Higgs -2 $462,250
T4 Paul Casey -2 $462,250
T8 Abraham Ancer -1 $263,000
T8 Justin Rose -1 $263,000
T8 Collin Morikawa -1 $263,000
T8 Jon Rahm -1 $263,000
T8 Will Zalatoris -1 $263,000
T8 Scottie Scheffler -1 $263,000
T8 Tony Finau -1 $263,000
T8 Rickie Fowler -1 $263,000
T8 Kevin Streelman -1 $263,000
T17 Aaron Wise E $168,000
T17 Patrick Reed E $168,000
T17 Charley Hoffman E $168,000
T17 Keegan Bradley E $168,000
T17 Corey Conners E $168,000
T17 Sungjae Im E $168,000
T23 Chan Kim 1 $103,814
T23 Jason Scrivener 1 $103,814
T23 Martin Laird 1 $103,814
T23 Hideki Matsuyama 1 $103,814
T23 Billy Horschel 1 $103,814
T23 Matt Fitzpatrick 1 $103,814
T23 Patrick Cantlay 1 $103,814
T30 Matt Jones 2 $59,750
T30 Stewart Cink 2 $59,750
T30 Viktor Hovland 2 $59,750
T30 Webb Simpson 2 $59,750
T30 Ian Poulter 2 $59,750
T30 Jordan Spieth 2 $59,750
T30 Joaquin Niemann 2 $59,750
T30 Christiaan Bezuidenhout 2 $59,750
T38 Emiliano Grillo 3 $42,000
T38 Tyrrell Hatton 3 $42,000
T38 Richy Werenski 3 $42,000
T38 Gary Woodland 3 $42,000
T38 Bryson DeChambeau 3 $42,000
T38 Branden Grace 3 $42,000
T44 Jason Day 4 $31,300
T44 Daniel van Tonder 4 $31,300
T44 Talor Gooch 4 $31,300
T44 Ben Cook 4 $31,300
T44 Steve Stricker 4 $31,300
T49 Byeong-Hun An 5 $24,950
T49 Sam Horsfield 5 $24,950
T49 Rory McIlroy 5 $24,950
T49 Robert MacIntyre 5 $24,950
T49 Harold Varner III 5 $24,950
T49 Jason Kokrak 5 $24,950
T55 Matt Wallace 6 $22,475
T55 Alex Noren 6 $22,475
T55 Carlos Ortiz 6 $22,475
T55 Joel Dahmen 6 $22,475
T59 Robert Streb 7 $21,400
T59 Cameron Davis 7 $21,400
T59 Dean Burmester 7 $21,400
T59 Denny McCarthy 7 $21,400
T59 Cameron Smith 7 $21,400
T64 Garrick Higgo 8 $20,200
T64 Henrik Stenson 8 $20,200
T64 Adam Hadwin 8 $20,200
T64 Harris English 8 $20,200
T64 Tom Hoge 8 $20,200
T64 Jimmy Walker 8 $20,200
T64 Danny Willett 8 $20,200
T71 Lucas Herbert 9 $19,350
T71 Russell Henley 9 $19,350
T71 Tom Lewis 9 $19,350
T71 Lee Westwood 9 $19,350
T75 Daniel Berger 10 $19,050
T75 Wyndham Clark 10 $19,050
77 Brendan Steele 11 $18,900
78 Brad Marek 12 $18,800
79 Rasmus Hojgaard 13 $18,700
80 Bubba Watson 14 $18,600
81 Brian Gay 18 $18,500

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Tiger Woods congratulates Phil Mickelson on PGA Championship win: ‘Truly inspirational’

Tiger Woods congratulated his longtime competitor shortly after his record-setting PGA Championship win.

It may be quite some time before golf fans are able to witness what took place during Sunday’s final round of the PGA Championship.

At 50-years-old, just weeks before turning 51, Phil Mickelson set a record as the oldest men’s major champion with his sixth major victory. The previous mark, set by a 48-year-old Julius Boros at the 1968 PGA Championship, stood untouched for 53 years.

That caught the attention of 15-time major champion Tiger Woods, who took to Twitter shortly after Mickelson’s win at Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Ocean Course in South Carolina to congratulate his longtime competitor on the PGA Tour.

PGA Championship: Leaderboard | Winner’s BagPhotos

Woods has been recovering at his home in Florida since March following a scary accident in Los Angeles in February.

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Winner’s Bag: Phil Mickelson, 2021 PGA Championship

Check out the clubs Lefty used to win the 2021 PGA Championship.

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As he often does, Phil Mickelson made adjustments to his equipment setup during the PGA Championship. On Sunday, he cracked the face of his TaylorMade “Original One” Mini Driver, but replaced it with a backup. he also replaced a Callaway X-Forged UT 3-iron with a Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero 4-wood.

Here is a complete list of the golf equipment Phil Mickelson used Sunday to win the 2021 PGA Championship:

DRIVER: Callaway Epic Speed (6 degrees adjusted to 5.5), with Fujikura Ventus Black 6 TX shaft

FAIRWAY WOOD: TaylorMade “Original One” Mini Driver (11.5 degrees), with Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X shaft, Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (17 degrees), with Fujikura Ventus Blue 8 X shaft

IRONS: Callaway X-Forged UT (4-5), Apex MB (6-PW), with KBS Tour V 125 S+ shafts

WEDGES: Callaway PM Grind Raw (52, 56, 60 degrees), with KBS Tour-V 125 S+ shafts

PUTTER: Odyssey Phil Mickelson White Hot XG blade prototype

BALL: Callaway Chrome Soft X with Triple Track

GRIPS: Golf Pride MCC (full swing) / SuperStroke PistolGT Tour CounterCore (putter)

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Phil Mickelson wins PGA Championship, becomes oldest men’s major champion

Phil Mickelson made history in more ways than one with his PGA Championship victory.

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Clobbering Father Time, bullying big bad Brooks Koepka and getting the better of Pete Dye’s bruiser hard by the sea, Phil Mickelson etched his name in golf’s historical record with a staggering victory Sunday in the 103rd PGA Championship.

While doubters waited for Mickelson to falter, seeing as he hadn’t won since 2019, hadn’t finished top 10 in a major since 2016 and recently sought out meditation to deal with focus issues, he didn’t lose his concentration nor his balance during a rollercoaster round on the harsh, windswept Ocean Course at Kiawah Island to become the oldest major championship winner ever.

After sleeping on a one-shot lead, Mickelson, 200-1 to win on Thursday and a few weeks from turning 51, survived a helter-skelter first 10 holes where he and playing partner Koepka exchanged body blows to the tune of four two-shot swings and one three-shot swing and then didn’t stagger despite a few more thrills and spills on the back nine and signed for a 1-over 73 to win by two shots.

PGA Championship: Leaderboard | Photos

Inspired by the boisterous pro-Phil galleries, the People’s Champion won his sixth major and supplanted Julius Boros, who won the 1968 PGA Championship at 48, as the oldest to win a major.

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PGA Championship: The potentially life-changing week for low-PGA club pro Ben Cook

Ben Cook impressed Webb Simpson and his caddie Paul Tesori with his play and has ambitions of making the PGA Tour.

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – One putt. Eight feet. To play the weekend at the 103rd PGA Championship.

PGA teaching pro Ben Cook sank it as if it was just another putt on the practice green at Yankee Springs Golf Course in Wayland, Michigan, where he is PGA Director of Instruction.

“It is weird to think that it came down to the last putt on the last hole that I almost three-putted to miss the cut,” he said. “But I made it thankfully and then without that, it would have – none of this would have happened.”

That included a third-round pairing with former major winner Webb Simpson, and shooting a sparkling 3-under 69 on ‘moving day’ at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. As Simpson and his caddie, Paul Tesori, walked off the green, Tesori said of Cook, 27, “How does he lose any tournament he plays in? He should be out here with us.”

Tesori, who played one year on the Tour before becoming a caddie, is a student of the game and he went one better at the end of the round, and let Cook know how impressed he was with his performance.

“Paul after the round was like, ‘Hey, use this as a springboard and see if you can build on that momentum that you created this week and see if you can get to the next level,’ which was really nice,” Cook said. “They are hoping to see me out here on a more regular basis, which is great.”

Ben Cook reacts on the first green during the second round of the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Resort’s Ocean Course on May 21, 2021 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Cook, who rocked a hat with the word “Bad” on the front, made four birdies in the final round en route to shooting 2-over 74 and a 72-hole total of 4-over 292. It earned him low PGA club pro honors after being one of the 20 club pros to qualify for the championship. He earned a berth in the field for finishing third in the PGA Professional Championship.

“It’s always something I’ve strived to do the last couple years and now that I’ve made the cut and was low club pro this year, it’s definitely a goal achieved, along with making the cut,” said Cook, who missed the cut in the 2019 and 2020 PGA. “Very happy.”

Cook has bigger ambitions in the pro game. He missed the cut at the PGA Tour’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in September, currently has status on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica and has a date at U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying. Making the cut at the PGA Championship allows him to skip to the second stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School later this year.

“If I finish Top-10 on the Order of Merit or their points list, I’ll get to go to final stage of Q-School, get a card. Depending on how you play, you get better status,” he explained.

Of competing on PGA Tour Latinoamerica, Cook said, “It’s a little brotherhood, if you will, of everybody kind of splitting costs and going to dinners together. It’s a blast,” he said.

So was an unforgettable week at the 103rd PGA Championship.

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Phil Mickelson cracks 1-iron, adds 4-wood before Sunday’s final round at PGA Championship

Lefty had to make a last-minute equipment change before the final round of the PGA Championship.

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If Phil Mickelson is going to win his sixth career major championship at the 2021 PGA Championship, he will have to do it after making a last-minute equipment change.

As Mickelson stepped up to the third tee after regaining the lead over Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen and Kevin Streelman, CBS Sports on-course analytist Dottie Pepper said that Mickelson’s caddie and brother, Tim Mickelson told her Phil cracked the face of his 1-iron. It happened 15 minutes before Mickelson went to the tee. The Hall of Famer added his Callaway 4-wood in its place.

Most pros travel to events with a full 14-club set, along with a backup driver, backup putter and perhaps one or two other clubs. Mickelson is known for traveling with as many as 23 to 25 clubs, picking the 14 that will go into his bag based on the course and weather conditions.

PGA Championship: Leaderboard | Photos

On Thursday this is what he had in the bag:

DRIVER: Callaway Epic Speed (6 degrees), with Fujikura Ventus Black 6TX
FAIRWAY WOOD: TaylorMade “Original One” Mini Driver (11.5 degrees), with Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X
IRONS: Callaway X-Forged UT (3-5), Apex MB (6-PW), with KBS Tour V 125 S+ shafts
WEDGES: Callaway PM Grind Raw (52, 56, 60 degrees), with KBS Tour-V 125 S+ shafts
PUTTER: Odyssey Phil Mickelson White Hot XG blade prototype
BALL: Callaway Chrome Soft X with Triple Track
GRIPS: Golf Pride MCC

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The perfect pairing? PGA Championship’s final group of Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka might be.

Brooks Koepka was 2 years old when Phil Mickelson turned pro.

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Phil Mickelson was annoyed.

It had nothing to do with his golf. That was going splendidly Saturday with birdies on two of his first three holes to open up a three-shot lead that would peak at five before stumbling during the third round of the PGA Championship.

But as Phil addressed his second shot on No. 4, he was looking straight into a drone.

“Could the TV guys get the drone out of the line of my shot,” he said to anyone who would listen on the course.

“It’s annoying.”

That drone, as it turned out, was the least of Mickelson’s problems by the end of the day. A larger one started looming on the back nine, one that four years ago turned majors into his personal playground, having won four, and once again has been under the radar this week as he continues to recover from knee surgery.

PGA Championship: Leaderboard | Photos | How to watch | Tee times

Now, Brooks Koepka is Mickelson’s biggest annoyance.

“Feels normal,” said an emotionless Koepka minutes after posting a 2-under 70 to get to 6-under for the tournament, one shot behind Mickelson.

“I’ve got a chance to win, so that’s all I wanted to do today is not give back any shots and be there tomorrow with a chance,” Koepka said. “And I’ve got that.”

Koepka was 2 years old when Mickelson turned pro. Mickelson’s first major championship, the 2004 Masters, came eight days after Koepka’s 14th birthday. Sunday, the two will be paired with Koepka seeking his fifth major, third PGA Championship, and Mickelson seeking his sixth major and second Wanamaker Trophy.

“I’m playing really well and I have an opportunity to contend for a major championship on Sunday,” is how Phil, 50, summed up the day.

Koepka, 31, made up five shots in six holes to catch Mickelson, who appeared as if he was going to head into Sunday’s final round with a comfortable lead and a heavy favorite to become the oldest ever to win a major. But after playing his first 10 holes in 5-under and leading by five shots, Mickelson went bogey, double on Nos. 12 and 13. Koepka caught him with birdies on 12 and 16, but gave one back with a bogey on 18.

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That set up the pairing between two titans, one beyond his prime but finding the Fountain of Youth and the other an indomitable foe when it comes to majors, wounded knee or not.

Koepka, ranked 13th in the world, admitted he is not close to 100 percent after undergoing surgery two months ago to reattach a ligament in his right knee. He still cannot fully squat to read putts and looks awkward when sticking his tee in the ground or retrieving his ball from the cup.

The knee has held up. But that’s only part of the reason Koepka is contending in another major. He is dialed in with a focus he saves for this stage.

Koepka is so focused on what he is doing that when asked about being in the final pairing with the Hall of Famer, he said, “Am I in the final group? I don’t know.” Luis Oosthuizen relinquished that honor by shooting a 72 and finishing one shot behind Koepka.

“It’ll be nice,” Koepka said. “At least I can see what Phil is doing.”

Koepka had an idea what Mickelson was doing early when, playing one hole ahead, he heard the roars. Mickelson played as well as he has in a very long time – his last PGA Tour win came two years ago and we’re eight years removed from his last major championship – with four birdies in his first seven holes and then going to 5-under with another on No. 10.

Koepka, though, was always lurking despite what he believes was “the worst putting performance I think I ever had in my career.” As a result, Koepka hit the putting green for more than 30 minutes following his round. He called it a “speed issue and “not trusting” his stroke.

“It was just maybe felt a little slow,” he said about the greens. “I’ll go figure this out here shortly.”

The swing hole that opened the door for Koepka was No. 13. Both Mickelson and Oosthuizen, his playing partner Saturday, put their tee shots into the creek that runs along the right side of the hole. Oosthuizen managed to bogey the par-4 hole. Phil had to re-tee and missed a 13-foot putt for bogey.

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The double was his first of the tournament. In a span of three holes, Mickelson’s lead went from five to a single shot.

While Koepka was working on the putting green as the sun was setting on Kiawah Island, Mickelson was on the range. The driver was good to “Lefty” the first two rounds so much so he was 10th in the field in Stokes Gained: Off the Tee on Friday.

On Saturday, he was 70th.

He blamed his focus, something he has struggled with as his world ranking has plummeted to 113.

“I felt I had a very clear picture on every shot, and I’ve been swinging the club well, and so I was executing,” Phil said about the first 10 holes.

“Even though it slipped a little bit today and I didn’t stay as focused and as sharp on a few swings, it’s significantly better than it’s been for a long time. So I’m making a lot of progress, and I’ll continue to work on that and hopefully I’ll be able to eliminate a couple of those loose swings tomorrow.”

And if he doesn’t, Mickelson will have some company in the five-majors club.

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PGA Championship tee times, featured groups, TV and streaming info for Sunday’s final round

Everything you need to know for the final round of the PGA Championship.

One man stole the show on Saturday at the PGA Championship: Phil Mickelson. The 50-year-old kept his quest for a sixth career major title alive at Kiawah Island as he cruised through the first half of his day with five birdies in his opening 10 holes, then held it together over the back nine for a 70 that left him at 7 under. That’s one shot better than his closest pursuer, Brooks Koepka.

The possibilities for Sunday’s final certainly are exciting.

Here’s everything you need to know for that final round of the PGA Championship. All times listed are Eastern Standard Time.

PGA Championship: Leaderboard | Photos | How to watch

1st tee

Tee time Players
7:30 a.m. Brian Gay
7:40 a.m. Rasmus Hojgaard, Garrick Higgo
7:50 a.m. Lucas Herbert, Brendan Steele
8:00 a.m. Henrik Stenson, Byeong Hun An
8:10 a.m. Adam Hadwin, Brad Marek
8:20 a.m. Matt Wallace, Harris English
8:30 a.m. Robert Streb, Cam Davis
8:40 a.m. Bubba Watson, Tom Hoge
8:50 a.m. Jimmy Walker, Abraham Ancer
9:00 a.m. Russell Henley, Daniel Berger
9:10 a.m. Dean Burmester, Matt Jones
9:20 a.m. Sam Horsfield, Danny Willett
9:30 a.m. Tom Lewis, Chan Kim
9:40 a.m. Rory McIlroy, Stewart Cink
9:50 a.m. Jason Day, Wyndham Clark
10:10 a.m. Denny McCarthy, Emiliano Grillo
10:20 a.m. Justin Rose, Lee Westwood
10:30 a.m. Jason Scrivener, Robert MacIntyre
10:40 a.m. Harold Varner III, Aaron Wise
10:50 a.m. Daniel van Tonder, Viktor Hovland
11:00 a.m. Tyrrell Hatton, Collin Morikawa
11:10 a.m. Talor Gooch, Jon Rahm
11:20 a.m. Cameron Smith, Alex Noren
11:30 a.m. Patrick Reed, Carlos Ortiz
11:40 a.m. Webb Simpson, Ben Cook
11:50 a.m. Martin Laird, Hideki Matsuyama
12:00 p.m. Shane Lowry, Padraig Harrington
12:10 p.m. Will Zalatoris, Ian Poulter
12:20 p.m. Steve Stricker, Scottie Scheffler
12:30 p.m. Billy Horschel, Joel Dahmen
12:40 p.m. Harry Higgs, Richy Werenski
12:50 p.m. Charley Hoffman, Jason Kokrak
1:00 p.m. Keegan Bradley, Matt Fitzpatrick
1:10 p.m. Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay
1:20 p.m. Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler
1:40 p.m. Sungjae Im, Corey Conners
1:50 p.m. Gary Woodland, Paul Casey
2:00 p.m. Bryson DeChambeau, Joaquin Niemann
2:10 p.m. Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Branden Grace
2:20 p.m. Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Streelman
2:30 p.m. Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka

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