PGA Championship 2021: Phil Mickelson’s all-time best fan interactions
For the first time in a long time, Phil Mickelson is once again Phil the Thrill. It’s been two years since Phil Mickelson’s last professional victory and eight years since his last major championship, and somehow it feels as if it’s been that long since he contended at an event as well.
On Saturday at the 2021 PGA Championship, the 50-year-old vaulted into the lead — at one point extending a five-stroke margin over the remainder of the field — and enters Sunday’s final round firmly in contention for his sixth-career major victory.
To call Lefty’s surge into contention a “surprise” would be a vast understatement. To call it an ‘utter shock’ might come up short still. No, Phil’s arrival at Kiawah Island with a jacked-up Callaway driver and whole ‘lotta swagger comes as something else entirely. But we’re here for it, and we couldn’t be more excited to be along for the ride. (Ok — Phil’s brother/caddie Tim might be slightly more excited than we are.)
Sure, there’s a long way to go still. Eighteen of the 72 holes have yet to be contested, and Mickelson is admittedly rusty when it comes to the terrain of Sunday leads at majors (and no, Champions Tour events do not count in this respect). But it’s hard for the golf world to contain its excitement when Phil contends, partially because it’s hard for the golf world to name a more relatable character.
For the entirety of his over quarter-century in the game of professional golf, Mickelson has been among its most beloved (and lovable) figures. He is charismatic, charming and almost always a unique dose of human — and nowhere does that present itself more than in competition.
Even on a tour filled with extroverts, Phil stands apart for his capacity to interact with the people around him. Never afraid to share a smile or a quick joke, Phil has endeared himself to millions with his unrelenting humanity. Below are some of Lefty’s finest fan moments from 20 plus years in professional golf, from his hilarious fill-in caddie, to an all-time photo bomb, and everything in between.