What’s next for Phil Mickelson after he made major history with PGA Championship victory? From Grand Slam hopes to a possible Ryder Cup return, we look at five ways his career can continue to flourish in the months and years ahead…
Complete the career Grand Slam?
Mickelson was already in the field for next month’s US Open at Torrey Pines after being handed a special exemption by the USGA, although his victory at Kiawah Island will ensure he gets many more attempts to secure the only major he has yet to win.
PGA Championship glory will give Mickelson a five-year exemption to tee it up in his home national championship, where has made 10 top-10s in 29 appearances – including a record six runner-up finishes – without finding a victory,
Only Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have won all four majors in the modern era, but Mickelson will now arrive in his home city of San Diego with renewed confidence of adding further major silverware and joining golf’s most elusive club.
A Ryder Cup return for Team USA?
The Ryder Cup stalwart has already made more appearances in the biennial contest than any other player, with PGA Championship victory increasing the possibility of him extending his remarkable record for Team USA at Whistling Straits.
Only the top six players at the end of August’s BMW Championship qualify automatically for Team USA, while Mickelson’s victory sees him jump 36 places from 52nd to 16th spot and puts him back in consideration for a record 13th Ryder Cup appearance.
Mickelson has featured in every American team since his debut in 1995 and captain Steve Stricker believes this year’s Ryder Cup venue share similarities with Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, so will one winning week be enough to justify a captain’s pick?
Should Mickelson be selected as one of Stricker’s selections for this year’s contest in Wisconsin, then he will surpass Raymond Floyd – who was 51 years and 20 days when he featured in 1993 – as the oldest player to ever tee it up in a Ryder Cup.
More PGA Tour success?
Mickelson is just the eighth player to win a PGA Tour event in their 50s and the first to do so since Davis Love III rolled back the years, aged 51 years and four months, to claim the 2015 Wyndham Championship.
The victory takes Mickelson to 45 PGA Tour titles and tied-eighth in the all-time standings alongside Walter Hagen, with the title coming just a few weeks before his 51st birthday and making him the sixth-oldest PGA Tour winner ever.
Love is the only golfer since 1975 to reach the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour after turning 51, although few would rule out Mickelson joining that club. Could Sam Snead’s record as the oldest PGA Tour winner, which he managed aged 52 years and 10 months at the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open, be under threat?
PGA Championship Golf
May 25, 2021, 11:00am
A run at FedExCup glory?
Mickelson arrived in South Carolina without a top-20 on the PGA Tour since August and 168th in the season-long standings, leaving him with work to do over the final three months of the regular campaign to break into the top-125 and avoid missing the FedExCup play-offs for the first time since their inception in 2007.
A second lifting of the Wanamaker Trophy all-but guarantees his place in the play-offs once again, regardless of his results over the summer, with Mickelson jumping up 123 places to 45th spot in the standings and with plenty of breathing space heading into a busy summer.
Should Mickelson be able to add another strong finish or two over the coming months, then breaking into the top 30 and qualifying for the season-ending Tour Championship – an event he defeated Tiger Woods to win in 2009 – for the first time since 2018 remains a real possibility.
Champions Tour dominance?
Live PGA Tour Golf
May 27, 2021, 6:00pm
Mickelson has been eligible to tee it up on the over-50s circuit since reaching his half-century last June, although has only made three starts on the PGA Tour Champions as he continues to largely prioritise the PGA Tour.
He claimed a wire-to-wire win on his debut at the Charles Schwab Series last August and added a three-shot win at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in October, making him just the third player to win in his first two Tour Champions starts.
Mickelson has not played on the PGA Tour Champions since a tied-20th finish at the Cologuard Classic in February and is unlikely to feature on a regular basis anytime soon, given his return to the major winner’s circle, although it will be interesting to see which, if any, senior events he decides to tee it up in.
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