Phil Mickelson breaks down key crowd-erupting chip-in from waste bunker
Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka traded punches early on Sunday. Mickelson gave up his one-stroke lead after just one hole, but he made it a three-shot swing when he birdied 2 and Koepka made double bogey. It continued from there for a few more holes — back and forth — but you know how this one eventually ended, with Mickelson winning the 103rd PGA Championship for his sixth major title.
But before that 18th-green celebration, the 2021 PGA Championship really heated up on the par-3 5th hole. Mickelson was at six under and led Koepka by one, but Koepka found the green on 5 while Mickelson missed left and was short-sided in the waste bunker. Advantage: Brooks. Until it wasn’t.
From an almost identical spot of where Louis Oosthuizen made bogey in the pairing ahead, Mickelson splashed out and rolled it in for a birdie 2. The Mickelson-leaning crowd burst into a frenzy. For the first time in a long time due to Covid-19, it felt like fans were really at a golf tournament. They roared. Twitter went nuts. Koepka two-putted for par and Mickelson led by two.
Mickelson called it a “momentum-builder.” We’d agree.
“Biggest thing was getting that up and down — I just didn’t want to throw away another shot,” Mickelson said. “I had fought hard to keep the round in check and was still one over through four, so I just needed to get that up and down, and to have it go in was a bonus. I knew I had a lot of work ahead.”
The lead didn’t last, as Mickelson bogeyed 6 and Koepka birdied it to tie him, but the reverse happened on 7 and it was back to a two-shot Mickelson advantage. Lefty never trailed again. Hours later he hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy.
“He never doubted himself,” said his brother/caddie, Tim Mickelson. “His will and desire to win now is as high as it’s ever been.”