Kiawah Island, SC – For the first time since 2005, Phil Mickleson is a major champion once again. An absolute improbable champion at 50 years of age, Mickleson is the oldest player to ever win a major championship.
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island is a Pete Dye design that challenged the best players in the world this week. The gusty conditions right on the ocean made it beautiful to look at but entirely difficult to manage. The scores this week were not low. Phil finished at six under par with a two shot lead. Only 16 players were under par for the week.
Thursday and Friday the conditions were as expected – windy and tough. Recent PGA Tour Champions winner John Daly shot an 85 and 86 to miss the cut proving the course was not giving away scores. The long par-3 17th played especially hard with water lining the right side. Eric van Rooyen carded a triple bogey there and proceeded to smash a tee marker with his club in frustration. Phil, however, managed a 2-under round of 70 on Thursday. He then followed that up with a 3-under 69 after nearly erasing his progress through his first 27 holes. It was quite a journey.
Saturday, Phil extended his lead on Brooks Koepka by one shot. Brooks, who is still recovering from a knee surgery back in March, shines in majors as proven by his track record. Brooks posted a Saturday round of 70 to get into the last pairing, although Louis Oosthuizen wasn’t far behind either.
Sunday’s final round was a roller coaster. Phil hardly made any pars on the front nine, making a bogey for every birdie. He went out in even par. The back nine, Phil ran into some trouble. His approach on 13 landed just in front of the green yet trickled to the edge of the pond and rolled in. It was unlucky but Mickleson saved a bogey. Despite the troublesome closing stretch, Mickleson came up 18 with a two shot lead, with a scene out of a movie. Fans formed a line following Phil and Brooks’s grouping that was at least 6 rows deep with everyone trying to get close to the man. Phil stuck a 9-iron to about 15 feet for a stress free two-putt securing the win.
Next week the Tour heads to Colonial Country Club for The Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas.