KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Remember when Phil Mickelson couldn’t win a significant championship?
Remember when he was outlined by the label, “Best participant by no means to win a significant?’’
Remember all these maddening, soul-crushing near-misses in U.S. Opens — Winged Foot in 2006, Merion in 2013, Pinehurst in 1999?
The six runner-up finishes within the main championship he coveted most when he was a child and the one which has eluded him and stands between him and changing into solely the sixth participant within the historical past of the sport to finish a profession grand slam?
Remember when he was ridiculed for his physique?
Remember all of these issues?
Now keep in mind this: Mickelson’s stirring and historic victory in the 103rd PGA Championship on Sunday catapulted him into rarefied air in his sport.
Winning the PGA Championship, his second PGA title and sixth profession main, simply three weeks shy of his 51st birthday to change into the oldest main championship winner in golf historical past by practically three years strikes Mickelson additional up the listing of the best gamers of all time.
Like fairly damned near the highest 5 of all time.
Everything in these conversations is, in fact, subjective. And arguments will ensue. But the one gamers I’d place above Mickelson on the listing of all-time biggest gamers are Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Ben Hogan.
Where do you place this victory within the historical past of the game when it comes to its significance?
Nicklaus’ Masters victory in 1986 (his 18th profession main win) got here when he was 46 years outdated and it’s all the time been thought-about the best victory within the historical past of the game based mostly on who Nicklaus was, how lengthy it had been since he’d received, and his age.
Mickelson is greater than 4 years older than Nicklaus was in ’86.
Tiger Woods’ Masters victory in 2019 certainly ranks up there based mostly on the litany of bodily points he’d had with his again and the off-the-course scandal.
Woods, himself, must have been emotional watching what Mickelson has performed this week.
“It’s very potential that that is the final event I ever win … like if I’m being sensible,’’ Mickelson stated after the victory. “But it’s additionally very potential that I could have had slightly little bit of a breakthrough in a few of my focus and perhaps I am going on slightly little bit of a run, I don’t know. But the purpose is that there’s no motive why I or anyone else can’t do it at a later age. It simply takes slightly bit extra work.’’
Next up is the U.S. Open subsequent month at Torrey Pines, which occurs to be in Mickelson’s hometown of San Diego.
What he did this week — protecting his focus for 4 days and shutting the deal Sunday amidst 5 hours of stress and adversity — can do nothing however bolster Mickelson’s perception that he can lastly win a U.S. Open.
“I’ve believed for a while now with out success that I might play at my greatest and compete in main championships nonetheless, however till this week, I haven’t confirmed it to myself or anybody else,’’ Mickelson stated after his most important victory. “But I do consider that I consider that if I keep sharp mentally, I can play properly at Torrey Pines.’’
He stated he’ll take two weeks off earlier than the U.S. Open (Mickelson nearly all the time performs the week earlier than a significant), exit to Torrey Pines and “spend time on the greens and actually attempt to be sharp for that week, as a result of I do know that I’m taking part in properly and this might very properly be my final actually good alternative.’’
Who’s going to guess in opposition to Mickelson proper now?
“This is a man I’ve watched my whole life, and to see him really exit and contend, lead and are available out at the moment making an attempt to win this championship, it’s superb,’’ Collin Morikawa, the defending PGA champion, stated. “You can simply see it in his eyes that he needs to win, and nothing is admittedly stopping him.’’