The story of Phil Mickelson’s career would not be complete without a chapter (and perhaps several chapters) on Tiger Woods. Mickelson, who likely ensconced himself as one of the 15 greatest players ever with his victory at the PGA Championship Sunday, has lived the overwhelming majority of his professional life alongside Woods.
That a six-time major champion could spend part of his career in the shadow of another player speaks only to the enormity of Woods’ greatness — and underscores the history of Mickelson’s newest victory. Mickelson would be a timeless player in any era, and it’s hard not to wonder how many more major championship wins he might have if not for Woods’ role as his foil.
On Sunday at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, Mickelson won his sixth-career major in historic fashion. The 50-year-old is now the oldest major-winner ever, overcoming impossibly long betting odds and brutally penal conditions at the Ocean Course en route to a two-stroke victory.
Noticeably absent from Mickelson’s victory, however, was Woods. For the first time in any of Phil’s five major victories, Tiger was not present for the action.
While he couldn’t be there in person, Tiger took to Twitter to share a heartfelt message for his longtime sparring partner.
“Truly inspirational to see @PhilMickelson do it again at 50 years of age.” Woods said in a tweet sent from his official account Sunday. “Congrats!!!!!!!”
Mickelson was emotional in the immediate aftermath of his round Sunday, sharing an emotional phone call with his wife, Amy and brother/caddie Tim off the 18th green.
“This is just an incredible feeling because I just believed that it was possible but yet everything was saying it wasn’t,” Mickelson said after the win. “I hope that others find that inspiration. It might take a little extra work, a little bit harder effort, but gosh, is it worth it in the end.”
It may be true that the Phil/Tiger rivalry is past its golden age, but it’s clear that even as the years have worn on, the respect has only grown.