Phil Mickelson’s victory for the ages – and aged
Through meditation and diet, American great turns back the clock to become oldest Major winner at 50
Not satisfied after becoming golf's oldest Major champion by winning the US PGA Championship, ageless wonder Phil Mickelson is aiming for an elusive US Open title to complete a career Grand Slam.
The 50-year-old American bagged an iconic victory for the ages - and the aged - with his triumph at windy Kiawah Island, South Carolina, yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Battling through strong winds, Mickelson shrugged off a few poor shots and kept calm amid suffocating pressure to record a final-day one-over 73 at The Ocean Course, holding his nerve with Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen breathing down his neck.
In carding a six-under 282 for the week, Mickelson beat Oosthuizen by two strokes and broke Julius Boros' record of being oldest Major winner at 48, which the fellow American set at the 1968 US PGA Championship.
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"I've believed for some time now without success that I could play at my best and compete in Major championships still," said Mickelson. "But until this week, I haven't proven it to myself or anyone else."
Transforming mind and body with work and discipline, the left-hander has new inspiration to challenge the US Open, the one Major he has never won and an event where he owns a record six runner-up finishes, the most recent in 2013.
He will get his chance next month, when the US Open will be held near his San Diego home at Torrey Pines. He turns 51 on June 16, the eve of the opening round.
"I know I'm playing well and this could very well be my last really good opportunity to win a US Open, so I'm going to put everything I have into it," he said.
Mickelson needs the US Open to join Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan as the only golfers to win all four Major titles in their careers.
Woods, who is at home recovering from serious leg injuries suffered in a February car crash, was quick to congratulate him.
The 15-time Major champion tweeted: "Truly inspirational to see @PhilMickelson do it again at 50 years of age. Congrats!"
Mickelson, who had not won a Major title since the 2013 British Open, attributes his improvements to some lifestyle changes.
He fasts 36 hours a week, watches his diet more closely than when he was younger and also took up meditation.
"Certainly takes more energy out of me, but if I work a little harder, spend a little more time in the gym, eat well, practise hard, there's no reason why I can't put it all out there for 18 holes," Mickelson said.
That has meant clearing his mind through meditation in order to stay calm under pressure.
"Just the ability to kind of quiet my mind and get rid of all the exterior noise... that has kind of been the biggest thing for me," he added.
"I've tried to shut my mind to a lot of stuff going around. I wasn't watching TV. I wasn't getting on my phone. I was just trying to quiet things down."
That inner calmness certainly helped when his approach shot safely found the green at the final hole. A wild scene ensued as fans completely enveloped him in a frenzied swarm.
Mickelson admitted later that he was a little unnerved by the experience, while rival Koepka said he was "dinged" by spectators in the crush.
Security officials had to create a narrow path for Mickelson to navigate his way to the green, where he two-putted from 16 feet to seal the win.
"It's very possible that this is the last tournament I ever win, if I'm being realistic," Mickelson said. "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." - AFP, REUTERS