By Rick Press
5 reasons Mickelson could keep the magic – and history – rolling at the Charles Schwab Challenge
After Phil Mickelson tapped in on No. 18 at Kiawah Island on Sunday to win the 103rd PGA Championship, we couldn’t help but wonder: Could he do it again? Nextweek?
Sure, it is probably way too much to ask for a little more Mickelson Magic this week at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth. And we should all still be celebrating a 50-year-old winning one of golf’s majors. It is historic, after all.
But while the rest of the golf world has shifted focus toPhil’s quest to win a U.S. Open at Torrey Pines next month, in North Texas we’ve started pulling for Phil to double down on his PGA title with a victory at the 75thedition of Colonial, which tees off on May 27.
Mickelson has every reason to be worn out after a grueling week at Kiawah. Even he has mused that the PGAChampionship might be his last. “If I’m being realistic, it’s very possible that this is the last tournament I ever win,” he said last Sunday, the enormous Wanamaker trophy gleaming nearby. “But,” he added, “it’s also very possible that I may have had a little bit of a breakthrough … and maybe I go on a little bit of a run.”
So, he’s saying there’s a chance, which is why we came up with a few reasons Mr. Mickelson could keep rewritinghistory in Fort Worth this week:
In 2008, he hoisted a wedge out of deep rough, under one set of tree branches and over another, to land his ball within nine feet on the final hole of the tournament. He capped off the Houdini-like escapewith a birdie putt to seal his second victory in Fort Worth.
“Just lucky,” Mickelson said after the round. “I’m as surprised as anybody I was able to make a 3 from over there.” For those of us who witnessed the shot in person, we learned to never underestimate Phil’s flair for the dramatic.
Fort Worth native Ben Hogan won Colonial five times. That’s why there’s a statue of him at the entrance and the course is called Hogan’s Alley.
But Mickelson is one of 10 two-time champions at Colonial, winning in 2000 and 2008. With a third victory this week, Phil would separate himself from an illustrious group that includes Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, and Julius Boros – the man whose record Mickelson broke to become the oldest player to win a major. As a historian of the game, that could provide extra incentive.
On Sunday, Phil became the oldest player to win a major. On Wednesday, he made headlines with the announcement of the next edition of The Match, a made-for-TV event slated for July 6. He will team up again with Tampa Bay QB Tom Brady to take on Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers and the 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau.
In mid-June, Mickelson will play the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, which is essentially a home game. So his chances of capturing golf’s grand slam are as good as they’ve ever been. And if that’s not enough, his signature Coffee for Wellness brand has become the talk of social media. A win at Colonial would ensure that Phil’s cup runneth over this summer.
In 2009, about a week before Mickelson was planning to defend his title at Colonial, his wife Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Phil suspended his schedule indefinitely to support her, and Fort Worth showed support for the couple by participating in a Pink Out on Saturday of that year’s tournament.
Fans, players, caddies, and tournament volunteers all wore pink to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer. Amy and Phil said they “had tears rolling down their faces” as they watched the tournament together from home.
Mickelson will no doubt feel the love at Colonial again this week, and his memories of 2009 could help propel him to another plaid jacket in 2021.
Not surprisingly, Mickelson will be part of the marquee group in the first two rounds of the Charles Schwab Challenge, playing with 2016 winner and local favorite Jordan Spieth and defending champ Daniel Berger.
Spieth and Berger are two of the hottest golfers on tour – Spieth, 27, won the Valero Texas Open a few weeks ago and has racked up his share of top 10s this year; Berger, 28, won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February and is No. 16 in the world rankings.
All of that should just be more motivation for Phil, who stared down Brooks Koepka in the final round at the PGA last week – not to mention Louis Oosthuizen, Will Zalatoris, and Collin Morikawa, all of whom are in the field at Colonial this week.
Mickelson makes very few concessions to his age. The man is 48th on tour in driving distance this season, averaging 302.5 yards off the tee; Spieth is 82nd (297.8 yards) and Berger 84th (297.5). That means Phil will likely be bombing it past the youngsters all day long, proving that 50 really is the new 27.