Phil Mickelson became the oldest winner of a major championship in golf history, claiming the PGA Championship by two strokes on Sunday.
The 50-year-old Mickelson shot a 1-over 73 in the final round at Kiawah Island to finish two shots ahead of Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen.
Mickelson braves crowd to complete improbable victory
Julius Boros was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship. That achievement made him the oldest major champion in golf history for over half a century. Mickelson has now set a new high mark for a winner’s age in the 161 years of major championships.
“It’s very possible that this is the last tournament I ever win,” Mickelson said afterward. “But it’s also very possible that I may have had a little bit of a breakthrough in some of my focus and maybe I go on a little bit of a run. I don’t know. But the point is that there’s no reason why I, or anybody else, can’t do it at a later age. It just takes a little bit more work.”
Mickelson made two early birdies on Sunday and, at one point, pushed his lead out to as many as five strokes. While he carded three bogeys over the final six holes, he was too far ahead for anyone to seriously challenge him down the stretch.
Truly inspirational to see @PhilMickelson do it again at 50 years of age. Congrats!!!!!!!
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) May 23, 2021
Kiawah Island hosted thousands of spectators. The crowd surrounded Mickelson as he walked down the 18th fairway after having safely hit his approach shot onto the green to take most of the remaining drama out of the proceedings. Mickelson and playing partner Koepka briefly disappeared from view of the cameras before reemerging to finish the tournament.
“I’ve never had an experience like that,” Mickelson said after his win. “Slightly unnerving, but exceptionally awesome.”
Sportsbooks report few winning bets, big payouts
Age alone made Mickelson’s victory unlikely, but he also came in as a massive long shot, in large part, because he’d struggled mightily to remain relevant in recent years. His last victory came in the 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and he had fallen to 115th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
That meant that sportsbooks listed Mickelson at very long odds prior to the PGA Championship. One bettor won a $1,000 bet at +30000 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook, pocketing $300,000 as a result. Other bookmakers, like William Hill, posted Mickelson at +20000 prior to the tournament. He was +25000 at SuperBook Sports. Few bettors took a chance on Lefty even at those odds.
“Phil had some support over the weekend at 14/1 and 3/1, but just some small stuff at 250/1 [pre-tournament],” SuperBook Sports vice president of risk Jeff Sherman told VSiN.
Mickelson became one of the biggest long shots to ever win a golf major. Alex Myers of Golf Digest reported that Todd Hamilton was a +50000 long shot before winning the 2004 Open Championship.