CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – After nearly a quarter-century of professional golf, Phil Mickelson has created some unforgettable memories. From the 1999 US Open thriller at Pinehurst, to the catastrophic 18th hole at Winged Foot in 2006, to his flawless final round at Muirfield in the 2013 Open Championship, Phil has entertained and astonished golf aficionados for his entire career. This week at the 99th PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club, Lefty will compete in his 100th career major championship.
(Phil Mickelson sinks the winning birdie putt in the 2004 Masters Tournament to secure his first major championship.)
At age 47, more years of competitive golf now lie in Phil’s rear-view mirror than remain on the horizon. Nonetheless, the celebrated left-hander has compiled an impressive resume in the 25 years since he turned professional in 1992. Among Phil’s accolades are: five major championships, eleven runner-ups in major championships (second most all-time), two WGC victories, a Players Championship title, 42 PGA Tour wins (9th all-time), and eleven Ryder Cup appearances (most all-time). In commemoration of Phil Mickelson’s 100th major championship appearance, we’ll relive some of the most memorable moments of his Hall of Fame career.
5) “Redemption from Winged Foot” ~ Approach to 72nd hole at 2008 Crowne Plaza Invitational
Entering the final hole tied at -13 with Rod Pampling and Tim Clark, Lefty needed a birdie to avoid a playoff for the title. However, even a playoff looked unlikely when—in classic Mickelson fashion—Phil sliced his drive deep into the left rough. Rekindling unpleasant memories of his famous missed tee-shot at the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot, Mickelson discovered his ball hidden behind several large trees—his approach to the green completely obstructed. With the tournament on the line, Mickelson stepped up to his ball, erased Winged Foot from his mind, and did this:
4) “I Didn’t Want to Tell You About the Gap I Had” ~ Timely Save on 8th Hole in 2007 Players Championship
Perhaps the most fascinating component of Phil Mickelson’s appeal isn’t his remarkable shots, but his remarkable saves. Known for taking numerous risks, Phil has often created situations in which victory can only be attained through exceptional scrambling. No greater example can be provided of Mickelson’s ability to salvage a desperate situation than on the 8th hole of the final round in the 2007 Players Championship. After recording birdies on the first two holes, Mickelson gained a narrow advantage over 54-hole leader Sean O’Hair. However, an errant tee-shot on the par-4 eighth buried Mickelson’s ball in a sand bunker, with the green obscured by several of TPC Sawgrass’s signature palm trees. With the tournament hanging in the balance, Phil struck another beautiful save en-route to his maiden Players Championship victory. And the subtle quip to his caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, after hitting the shot is nearly just as memorable:
— THE PLAYERS (@THEPLAYERSChamp) August 3, 2017
3) “Most Special Victory of My Career” ~ Final Round 66 at Muirfield, Scotland in 2013 Open Championship
After a heartrending 6th runner-up performance in the 2013 US Open at Merion only a few weeks prior to the Open Championship, Mickelson explained in a press conference that he had been unable to get out of bed for several days. Heartbroken, Phil described the 2013 US Open as his best opportunity to capture the major championship which had eluded him for nearly two decades. Traveling to Gullane, Scotland for the 142nd Open Championship, a major in which Mickelson had broken the top ten only twice in his career, seemed an unlikely salve to Mickelson’s heartache. That week, Lefty would surprise even himself. Entering the final round five shots behind leader Lee Westwood, Phil scored a historic final round 66—with four birdies in the last six holes—to claim the Claret Jug. Expressing in his victory speech that “I never knew if I would be equipped, if I would have the shots to win”, Mickelson claimed that it was the “most special victory of my career.” That is high rhetoric for a Hall of Fame player already possessing three green jackets, and a Roy Wanamaker Trophy. As he closed the historic round, Mickelson finished in style with this birdie putt on Muirfield’s 72nd hole:
2) “Shot of His Life” ~ Eagle on 13th Hole in Final Round of 2010 Masters Tournament
Every all-time great player has a signature shot. For Arnold Palmer, it was his famous hat-toss after winning the 1960 US Open at Cherry Hills. For Tiger, it was the thrilling, last-roll eagle on the 16th hole in the 2005 Masters. For Phil Mickelson, the signature shot for which he will be forever remembered transpired at the 2010 Masters. At age 44, with two green jackets (2004 and 2006) and a PGA Championship (2005) victory to his name, Phil had already effectively secured his admission ticket into the World Golf Hall of Fame. However, following his wife’s 2009 breast cancer diagnosis, Phil seemed driven to win another major, this time for his family. By the 13th hole of the 2004 Masters’ final round, however, a third green jacket seemed implausible. Mickelson was trailing England’s Lee Westwood by five shots, and had struck his tee shot into a difficult lie in Augusta’s notorious pine-straw. From behind a towering pine, Mickelson struck perhaps the greatest shot of his career:
1) “Finally, Phil!”
No matter how many titles a player achieves, the first major championship win is always the most memorable. At age 34, after attaining nine top-ten finishes in majors, and two runner-up performances, Phil Mickelson had unquestionably obtained the dreaded title of “best-player-to-never-win-a-major.” After finishing second to Payne Stewart in the epic 1999 duel at Pinehurst, to David Toms by a single stroke in the 2001 PGA Championship, and to Tiger Woods in the 2002 US Open at Bethpage Black, Phil Mickelson was deadlocked in a contest at the 2004 Masters with three-time major champion Ernie Els. Draining birdie putts on five of the final six holes, Mickelson needed to bury one more timely birdie putt on the 72nd hole to avoid a playoff with Els. With his family watching, and the tournament’s outcome depending on his putter, Mickelson delivered a finale for the ages:
With any luck, perhaps Mickelson will add more memories to the list this week in the 99th PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club. Happy 100th, Phil.
3) Although he didn’t make the final putt, Mickelson’s unbelievable opening round of 63 in the 2015 Open Championship at Royal Troon was one of the most memorable performances in Open history. And Phil was about a thousandth of an inch from shooting an all-time major championship low score of 62: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYRE5f5isow
2) Phil’s famous slop shot to win his first PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club, which secured a one-shot victory over Steve Elkington, is one of the more overlooked moments of Lefty’s career. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlBJ97TYWfo
1) Pretty much any shot from Phil’s epic Sunday singles duel with 8-time Ryder Cup player Sergio Garcia qualifies, although this lengthy birdie on the final hole to halve the match certainly tops the list: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjN2E41o-68
Cover Image Via Instagram
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