Phil Mickelson majors: A brief history of Mickelson’s major titles
At one point in the 1990s, the thought was that this post would be a very long one. That Phil Mickelson might win double digit majors — he was that good.
And then in the early 2000s, the thought was this post might never exist! Mickelson turned 30 and had never won a major championship as of 2003.
In the last 17 years, we’ve been treated to five major victories by Phil Mickelson, three Masters wins, one PGA and one British Open. The U.S. Open, you may know, is his career-long bugaboo, finishing second a record six times. Below is a brief history of all his major wins.
As mentioned above, Mickelson was sitting on zero career majors despite 22 Tour victories up to that point. Seriously, the career victory total of Dustin Johnson with no majors to Phil’s name. And even though he started with the lead on Sunday in Augusta, it appeared he would go winless again. Mickelson made the turn in 38 that day at Augusta National, trailing Ernie Els for a couple hours. A birdie on 16 evened things up, and with Els on the practice putting green, Mickelson addressed a putt to win the Masters some 80 yards away.
It dropped! Ernie knew it immediately based on the crowd’s reaction. No playoff today. Mickelson leapt in the air — well, sorta — and embraced his caddie Jim Mackay. The monkey was finally off his back.
2005 PGA Championship
Mickelson’s second major victory came by a similar margin, and also with a birdie on 18, though this one ended on a Monday. Due to heavy rain, the final round was actually finished on the Monday after the event. He began the final round with a share of the lead and once again surrendered it with a handful of bogeys in the middle of his round. But he played the final eight holes in one under, and made birdie on the last where Thomas Bjorn and Steve Elkington both made pars, cementing the one-stroke victory for Lefty.
To this point, the ’06 Masters signifies the cleanest final round of Mickelson’s career in major contention. He began the day with a one shot lead and didn’t make a bogey until the 18th, when he was nursing a 4-shot lead. Since the PGA Championship was then contested in August, this was the second major victory in a row for Mickelson, stamping him as the best player in the world not named Tiger Woods. As a matter of fact, this was around the time that Mickelson and Woods had divided golf fans. Were you a Tiger fan or a Phil fan? The major count was no contest, but Mickelson was now a two-time Masters champ.
One of the most exciting Masters in recent memory was undoubtedly one of the most emotional of Mickelson’s career. He had been on a four-year major drought, but beyond that his wife Amy Mickelson had been battling breast cancer. His mother was battling the disease, too. So when the final putt dropped, Jim Nantz had no other call to make. “That’s a win for the family,” Nantz said. Lefty won by three on a day where he didn’t make a bogey. Lee Westwood, Anthony Kim, even Tiger Woods threatened to snatch the green jacket from him, but none of them played as flawlessly as Mickelson did.
2013 British Open
In what is perhaps the most impressive win of Mickelson’s career, Lefty came from out of nowhere to win at Muirfield. He started the day five shots back of Lee Westwood at a course that was playing so difficult that just three players were under par through three rounds. On the back nine, where nearly every player in contention made multiple bogeys, Mickelson played the final eight holes in a ridiculous four under, with birdies on 13 and 14, and then both 17 and 18 to post three under for the championship. No one else got close, and a 43-year-old Mickelson earned a three-shot win from the comforts of the clubhouse.