Phil Mickelson of the United States celebrates on the 18th green after winning during the final round of the 2021 PGA Championship held at the Ocean Course of Kiawah Island Golf Resort on May 23, 2021, in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Phil Mickelson of the United States celebrates on the 18th green after winning during the final round of the 2021 PGA Championship held at the Ocean Course of Kiawah Island Golf Resort on May 23, 2021, in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images/TNS)

It turns out that Phil Mickelson might be getting better with age.

Mickelson became the oldest golfer to win a major championship, shooting a final-round, 1-over-par 73 to capture the PGA Championship by two shots Sunday at The Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

“This is just an incredible feeling because I just believed that it was possible but yet everything was saying it wasn’t,” Mickelson said. “I hope that others find that inspiration. It might take a little extra work, a little bit harder effort to maintain physically or maintain the skills, but gosh, is it worth it in the end.”

At 50 years, 11 months and 3 days old, Mickelson wiped out the mark of oldest winner of a major that was set by Julius Boros, then 48, in the 1968 PGA Championship. Mickelson will turn 51 on June 16.

Mickelson earned his sixth major title, a list that also includes the 2005 PGA Championship. His most recent victory in a major was the 2013 British Open. He has been a major champion in three different decades.

His final score of 6-under 282 marks an improbable result.

“What an achievement to win a major at 50 years old, and he deserves all of that,” said South African Louis Oosthuizen, who shared the runner-up spot with Brooks Koepka. “It was not easy with the wind, and you know, he kept calm. That’s unbelievable and great stuff.”

Mickelson, who had been atop the leaderboard in some fashion since Friday, briefly lost the lead near the beginning of the last round. But Koepka, who had taken the lead, took a dip, eventually going through a seven-hole stretch at 4 over.

“The thing was, Phil played great,” Koepka said.

Mickelson needed to be sharp given the circumstances.

“I love the challenge of competing against such great players,” he said. “What an incredible competitor and tough player Brooks Koepka is, and to have a chance to play in the final group with him was an exceptional honor.”

Mickelson’s lead over Oosthuizen shrunk to two strokes before a birdie on No. 16. A bogey on the next hole kept up the suspense.

Given the global pandemic and the recent return of galleries for professional tournaments, it was a jarring scene to watch Mickelson make his way through the crowd to the 18th green after his approach shot from the rough.

It was a sign of the tremendous support he received during the tournament.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had an experience like that, so thank you for that,” Mickelson said. “Slightly unnerving, but exceptionally awesome.”

Koepka (74), the tournament’s winner in 2018 and 2019, and Oosthuizen (73) shared second place at 4 under.

Koepka held the lead after the first hole with his birdie and Mickelson’s bogey. But a double-bogey on the par-5 second hole reversed the order, a strange twist given Koepka’s strong showing on par-5 holes during the tournament.

But Mickelson had other golfers marveling at his steady play all week. Then he put the finishing touches on Sunday.

“It’s pretty incredible,” Jordan Spieth said of Mickelson on Saturday. “I know he’s talked about how he’s been less competitive here versus the Champions Tour and it’s just been getting harder, whatever. ... The guy has got four good rounds on any golf course in him, and no one would bet against that.”

Mickelson’s best 2021 finish entering this event was a tie for 21st at the Masters in April.

Mickelson has won 45 times on the PGA Tour. This was his first win since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2019.

Koepka and Oosthuizen were left feeling like they let too many chances slip away.

“I’m super disappointed, pretty bummed. I’m not happy,” Koepka said. “I don’t know if there’s a right word I can say on here without getting fined, but it hurts a little bit. It’s one of those things where I just never felt comfortable over the putts. I don’t know why, what happened.”

Oosthuizen was also a runner-up in the tournament in 2017.

“I feel like I could have probably get two or three more shots out of my game,” Oosthuizen said. “I tried to be as aggressive as I could without doing stupid things.”

Shane Lowry (69) and Padraig Harrington (69), both from Ireland, tied for fourth place at 2 under with Harry Higgs (70) and England’s Paul Casey (71).

Abraham Ancer of Mexico shot 65 for the best round of the tournament. He finished at 1 under in a tie for eighth place.

“I was working the ball nicely with the wind and kind of getting close to some pin placements that I couldn’t get close to the previous days,” Ancer said.

Other results of note were turned in by defending champion Collin Morikawa (68) and Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris (70). They were among a cluster of nine golfers tied for eighth.

Reigning U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau had his worst round of the tournament with a 77, falling to a tie for 38th at 3 over.

--Field Level Media

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