KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Phil Mickelson became the oldest golfer ever to win a major championship with his win at the 2021 PGA Championship on Sunday.
It marked Phil’s sixth major victory and second Wanamaker Trophy. And he did it with his brother Tim Mickelson on the bag.
We sat down with Tim 1-on-1 on Monday after what was an exciting and emotional weekend for him and his brother.
A big part of the victory was Phil’s spectacular driving performance. At over 7,800 yards, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island this week was the longest course ever played in a golf major championship. Those who follow golf know that Phil loves to “hit bombs” as he says. Tim said the driving was a major key in the major win.
“We used both a driver and a 2-wood and I think that combination of both, knowing when we needed the extra length to hit the driver and when we needed 280 to 290 (yards) and in the fairway, that’s when we relied on the 2-wood,” Tim said.
A lot has gone into the preparation and build-up that led to Mickelson’s win, including the transformation of his diet, his body and his swing.
“I’m just super, super happy for him because I’ve seen how hard he’s worked over the last few years to maintain the ability to compete at a very high level whether it’s the nutrition or trying to hit the ball further or changing his swing with Andrew Getson his instructor, to just daily stretching and recovery, all that stuff as you get older gets important,” Tim said. “He puts in the time and his will and desire to win is as high as it’s ever been.”
One of the signature scenes of the weekend was the final hole when Phil drove the ball into the left rough near the gallery. After hitting an incredible shot to the green, the crowd broke loose, surrounding the Mickelson’s as they tried to walk up the fairway.
Tim said it was a special, fun chaos, but at the moment, it wasn’t so easy to enjoy it.
“It’s crazy, part of my job is to keep (Phil) safe, especially when we hit it off line,” Tim said. “I remember right before he hit the second shot and I’m looking around like, there are only like 12 or 13 cops, they got no chance to stop anybody. But, as soon as he hit I saw there was about four officers that huddled right around him. So I knew he was taken care, so I had to now get myself through that crowd and I actually almost got trampled on myself.”
Tim said usually in major championships, Phil will get quiet and uptight, but that wasn’t the case this week.
“There was this eerily, weird calm about him, he was like ‘hey we’re gonna stay focused, hit one shot at a time,’ and I was like who is this guy?” Tim said. “He never went and thought he I’m gonna birdie 16 when we’re on the eighth hole, he stayed focused on just hitting the next shot and because of that, he was able to stay focused for every shot and not waste energy throughout each round and I think that played a big part on Saturday and Sunday, having enough energy to get through the entire round.”
Sometimes it’s hard to realize what you’ve accomplished at the moment. After winning the PGA Championship, Mickelson had excessive interviews and trophy presentations, but Tim said he really saw it hit his brother when they were arriving back home.
“I think I really noticed it when we were flying home and probably thirty minutes before we landed in San Diego, he just looked over at me and said, ‘holy smokes, we actually did this.’ Going through all the Twitter messages, like ‘we actually did this, we created history.’ And I said, ‘hell yeah we did.’”
As for what’s next for Phil, who will be turning 51 soon, his plan is to just keep going. Tim says the pinnacle for Phil will be getting the elusive U.S. Open victory, which would complete his career Grand Slam of major wins.
“I don’t think there’s any slowing up for him, he’s still going to be 25-30 weeks a year, trying to win every tournament,” Tim said. The ultimate for him would obviously be winning the U.S. Open whether it’s this year at Torrey Pines or the next four years, we’re now exempt to play the U.S. Open for five years, so we don’t need that special exemption that he was given last week.”
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