Prior to Sunday’s victory, Mickelson had gone through difficult years on the PGA Tour since his last major victory in 2013.
In an effort to return to winning ways, he changed his diet and began to use meditation a lot more to focus his mind.
And it all paid off at the Kiawah Island Ocean Course, as Mickelson became the oldest winner of a major tournament, finishing six under for the competition.
At 50, Mickelson says the victory was particularly “special” because it may have gone against the prevailing belief that older athletes cannot be successful at the top.
“It’s special to do something at this level at this age when a lot of people don’t believe you can do it,” said the six-time major winner afterwards.
“It’s special to have people in my life from my wife, Amy, who without her love and support I wouldn’t be here. Or the support of my brother, Tim, and Andrew Getson and Steve Loy, who believed in myself and with me that I could achieve some of my goals even at an older age, while very few others believed in them.
“And so I think what’s so special is doing something and accomplishing something, putting in so much work and effort and then making it happen.”
Experienced, but still experiencing
And even with his spectacularly vast roster of golfing experiences, Mickelson was cast in an all-new one at the 2021 PGA Championship.
While it is customary for fans to be allowed to pull up the 18th fairway behind the last couple on the last day so that the green is surrounded, Sunday’s last hole for Mickelson was drastically, and somewhat scary, different.
Fans actually managed to run past him and Brooks Koepka, meaning they were engulfed by a crowd of cheering fans as they made their way to the final green, such was the fervor around the prospect of ‘a Mickelson victory.
Mickelson admitted the experience was both intimidating and memorable.
“It’s pretty special because the environment the fans bring is unique,” he explained.
“I had an experience at 18 that I never had in golf, being engulfed by fans at 18. And although it was a little annoying for a while, it was awesome. something that I will cherish. “
Surrounded by all this excitement and with fans chanting his name throughout Sunday’s round, it might have been easy for Mickelson to lose his focus.
But with the help of meditation techniques – he learned to expand his focus and exclude outside influences, which he said he worked on after a disappointing tournament a few weeks ago – and the guiding hand of his brother Tim as a caddy, Mickelson was able to stay in the moment and focus on each shot appropriately.
“I was pretty still,” said Mickelson, who rose from 116th to 32nd in the golf world rankings with his victory.
“I was able to calm my mind and not see all the chaos going on around me, but only see what I wanted to do. And I think that was the most important thing for me. all week long.”
He might be almost 51, but who can say that Mickelson won’t do the unthinkable at Torrey Pines next month by winning the US Open to finally finish the career Grand Slam?
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