Incredible Mickelson, with a smile he changed history

The champion is the cutest on the circuit: at almost 51 years old he became the oldest Major winner. This is how, in thirty years of professionalism, he has won the affection of the people

That said, it sounds simple. “There is no reason why I – or anyone else – should give up on my goals because I’m a certain age. It just takes a little more work. ” If it were easy, we would all be capable. On Sunday night in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, Phil Mickelson took on the giant PGA Championship cup at the tender age of 50 years, 11 months and 4 days. The oldest in history to establish himself in a golf major. The previous record was set by Julius Boros who in 1968 had won the PGA at the age of 48.

In world sport, careers are getting longer, there are many champions who do not want to hear about retirement. Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl at 43, Serena Williams and Roger Federer are still at high levels and are nearly 40, Ibrahimovic and Buffon are always decisive and raise trophies. But here we are beyond. Here we are talking about a fifty-year-old. And nobody says that golf is a sport in which the physique does not matter. Maybe that was once true, but nowadays there are only gym athletes with broad shoulders, muscular arms and legs as mighty as oaks on the fields. Instead Mickelson, throughout his career, has conquered the fans with the charm of the ordinary man. Not particularly skinny, although he has now dried a lot, the mundane look of the neighbor who works in a bank. A nice smile, yes, but more like a car salesman than a movie star.

It is not for everyone to change history with a smile and good manners. With success at the PGA, he reached six majors, equaling Lee Trevino and Nick Faldo. He had won his first major Tour title in 1991 when he was still an amateur and was unable to cash the check. Turning pro the following year, in 30 seasons he earned around $ 100 million in prizes alone, thanks to 45 wins and an infinite number of placings. The most painful six second places at the US Open, the only Major that has never won. Everyone likes Mickelson. Despite a dark side that he tries to keep well hidden: the compulsive passion for betting. A colleague of his once said that a test ride with him was economically demanding because on every hole, on every shot, he wanted to bet money. Hundreds of dollars every time. A few years ago he was involved in an investigation on suspicion of insider trading for certain stock market transactions. But what people see, and what makes them love, is the smiling champion who always stops to sign autographs, who never fails to give a fist and exchange a few words with the children, who gives balls to the public, who posts videos fun in which he gives instructions on how to improve in golf or how to strengthen the calves while watching TV while having a beer. His game is the triumph of fantasy. Cheering on Lefty – he plays like a lefty even if in life he isn’t and does everything with his right hand – is like being on a roller coaster. Big mistakes, brilliant recoveries and magical touches. Bringing him the bag as a caddy is his brother Tim. That Sunday evening he explained: “Phil loves golf. When he is at home he plays every day, the more holes he plays, the happier he is. It never stops”. And now that he has also discovered the benefits of meditation, why should he stop? On the other hand, in three weeks he will only be 51 years old.

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Incredible Mickelson, with a smile he changed history

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