Phil Mickelson’s closing 66, with four birdies on the last six holes, propelled him to his fifth major, and to a major upgrading by the entire golf community.
Before the Open Mickelson was a great player and a member of the HOF. Even though he was tied with Ernie Els with four majors, he was the media’s choice for the second best player of the Woods’ era. With his win he is now undisputedly second best over the last 17 years, a position I expect him to retain as I don’t see putting troubled Els winning another major. But, far more importantly, Mickelson is now being called an ALL TIME GREAT!
So, who are the legitimate All Time Greats he’s now joined?
All Time Greats of the Modern Era (1958-now)
All Time Greats of the Pre Modern Era (before 1958)
That is some pretty stout company, 16 players who won no less than five majors. In the Modern Era he is the sixth best of the nine all-time greats. On the list 16 he is probably about 12th based on his overall record, including those six seconds in the U.S. Open, not just his Ws in the majors.
At one time the media tried to make Tiger vs. Phil into debate when there was none. But if we now look at their stats in the majors from 2004 to now, there appears to be one.
Wins in the majors: Tiger 6, Phil 5
Seconds in the majors: Tiger 5, Phil 5
Thirds in the majors: Tiger2, Phil 2.
That is 13 to 12 in Tiger’s favor in top threes in the majors!
With his win, Mickelson has also accomplished the following:
He jumped from fifth to second in the World Golf Rankings
His major titles now span 10 seasons, a measure of longevity that’s only two years short of Woods’ record
He joined Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, and Lee Trevino as Modern Era players who have won 3 legs of the Career Grand Slam
Won a major in his 40s at age 43
Orchestrated a great bounceback win after his collapse at Merion
Won from behind in the final round (with a round that rivals Nicklaus
65 in 1986), something Woods has never done
Tied Seve Ballesteros with five majors, but he passed him based on his overall record in the majors
Passed Els and Ray Floyd, who have won four majors
When Darren Clarke won the British Open two years ago at age 42, you got the feeling that the portly fun loving Clarke had won his one and only major. With Mickelson, the feeling is entirely different.
At 43, the slim and trim Mickelson appears to be at his peak!! He said he putted the best of his life to win the Open, he is ultra-confident off the tee with his new super 3-wood, he’s got that great short game, and he says that his irons have always been the strong part of his game. Best of all, he is also employing Nicklaus’ secret weapon: course management.
So, with this confidence building victory, Mickelson’s got the total package and a heavy dose of career momentum! As a result, it is not hard to imagine him challenging Nicklaus for most majors in their 40s. Right now Nicklaus leads Mickelson 3-1, but I think Phil has at least a couple more in him.
Let’s do a little star gazing and imagine that Phil wins the U.S. Open at Pinehurst next year where he finished a shot back of Payne Stewart in 1999, and one other major. He would own the Career Grand Slam and seven majors. That would, in my opinion, make him the fourth best of the Modern Era, and a member of the All Time Top 10.
Given the current state of his game, the glittering resume that awaits him, and that he “loves golf and loves to compete,” I fully expect that we have not seen the last of Mickelson at the top of the leaderboards in golf’s biggest championships.