Phil Mickelson is one of the all time greats
There's been a lot of talk of Tiger Woods recently, of his latest comeback and how he can grace the big time again. The man who lived in Woods' shadow for over a decade, before emerging in his own right to win 5 major golf championship titles, Phil Mickelson, is showing at the age of 47 that it can be done, and that it will be done.
The California native won his 43rd PGA Tour event at the WGC Mexico Championship last night, defeating the in form Justin Thomas in a play off. This wasn't a run of the mill event; it was a quality tournament.
'Lefty', as he is known, is a tour champion for the first time since he won the 2013 Open at Muirfield. It was also his first victory since parting ways with long time caddie Jim 'Bones' Mackay. Now Phil has his brother, Tim, on the bag, so it was an emotional week. Mickelson looks in great shape. He was letting everyone know in recent interviews that a win was due, but that can sometimes be hard to believe when age is called into question. Fitness and technology has reduced this as a factor, but from a concentration perspective over 4 days, golf remains a young man's game. It is why Vijay Singh and Colin Montgomerie declined in their 40's and why Julius Boros is the oldest winner of a major ever at 48 years and 140 days. For trivia fans, his win came at the 1968 U.S. PGA Championship. Mickelson will turn 48 in June.
One cannot say Mickelson wasn't in form. He carried 3 successive top 10 finishes into Mexico and this win will give him tremendous confidence ahead of the Masters at Augusta next month. He has won 3 green jackets, the first of which in 2004 ignited a phase of his career that saw him transcend from talent and an 'all or nothing' approach only to talent, maturity, course management and elite wins. When you look back at Mickelson's journey, not that it is over, it includes 3 Masters titles, a PGA Championship, 6 second placed finishes at the U.S. Open and that fantastic Open Championship triumph. Throw in a Players Championship as well. That success at the Open will always remain his greatest achievement, as he had to adapt over many years to learn and conquer the nuances of links golf. He is the greatest player after Woods that we have seen over the last 25 years.
The Masters has always favoured the familiar; Jack Nicklaus and Fred Couples contended when their best days were behind them. Mickelson's magical putting stroke, beautiful short game and proven track record make him a live contender for the opening major of the year. It just adds another layer of intrigue to a cast of characters including Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnston, Sergio Garcia and Justin Thomas. It will be some live sporting movie. Bring it on!