The wild scene on the 18th hole at Kiawah Island Sunday afternoon was unlike anything in PGA Championship history. Now, the PGA of America says, the final moments of the tournament were too wild.
PGA of America officials issued a public apology on Monday to Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka — both players in Sunday’s final pairing — for a fan reaction it says “briefly overwhelmed” security at Kiawah Island.
The moment in question came on the 72nd hole of Phil Mickelson’s historic win, where fans swarmed into the center of the fairway after the two players hit their approach shots into the 18th green. The goal, it appeared, was to have fans walk the final hole with the leaders and surround the 18th green, creating a fitting coronation for the soon-to-be crowned oldest major champion in golf history.
Instead, the crowd powered past security and briefly enveloped Mickelson; a moment he categorized as “unnerving” in a post-round interview with Amanda Balionis. Koepka was also swarmed, and suggested after the round that fans might have been targeting his injured knee in the process.
“Somebody jammed Ricky, Ricky stopped unintentionally because he got drilled in the face, and then I got drilled in the back because he got stopped so quickly,” Koepka said of his caddie, Ricky Elliott. “But I don’t know what someone tried to or what, I don’t know what the deal was. There were so many people around.
“Yeah, it would have been cool if I didn’t have a knee injury and got dinged a few times in the knee in that crowd because no one really gave a s—, personally,” he continued. “But if I was fine, yeah, it would have been cool. Yeah, it’s cool for Phil. But getting dinged a few times isn’t exactly my idea of fun.”
The scene lasted only a minute or so, with security moving quickly to regain control of the situation and form a protective barrier around the players. Still, the momentary breach was enough to draw an apology from PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh.
“While we welcome enthusiastic fan engagement,” a statement from Waugh read. “We regret that a moment of high elation and pent-up emotion by spectators on the 18th hole during the conclusion of yesterday’s historic PGA Championship briefly overwhelmed security and made two players and their caddies feel vulnerable.”
Waugh, who has been the PGA’s CEO since 2018, said he spoke individually with both Mickelson and Koepka to express his regret.
“We always put player safety at the top of our list and are grateful that order was restored,” Waugh said. “I have spoken to both players and apologized on behalf of the Association.”
On Sunday, Mickelson won his sixth major with a two-stroke victory at the Ocean Course.