In search of his third USPGA Championship title in four years, pre-event 60.059/1 chance, Brooks Koepka, who had begun the final day trailing by a stroke, hit the front after the opening hole of yesterday’s final round at Kiawah Island when he opened-up with a birdie three and the overnight leader, Phil Mickelson, three-putted from distance to record a bogey five.
Koepka was matched at a low of 1.9520/21 as the final pairing walked to the second tee but that was as good as it got for Brooks who made a complete hash of the par five second, recording a double-bogey seven.
Kevin Streelman, a pre-event 400.0399/1 chance, who had begun the day alone in fourth and three adrift of Mickelson, was matched at a low of 6.86/1 after he began round four with back-to-back birdies but he lost his way after that and eventually finished tied for eighth.
Only Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen kept tabs with Mickelson after Streelman had drifted out of contention and pre-event 100.099/1 chance, Louis was matched at a low of 4.1 but he never really looked like getting to Lefty.
Having shot level-par on the front-nine, Mickelson birdied 10 to put daylight between himself and the rest and the result was never really in question after that.
Mickelson began the week trading at around 540.0539/1 on the exchange but he was matched at 1000.0 when he was three-over-par through the first six holes of the Championship on Thursday.
He won a Champions Tour event 10 months ago and he’s less than a month away from his 51st birthday. Yesterday’s victory came 30 years, four months and 10 days after his first on the PGA Tour (the longest span between first and last wins in PGA Tour history) and not only is he the oldest man to win a major championship, but he’s only the second winner over the age of 46!
The second oldest major winner, Julius Boros, won the USPGA Championship 53 years ago at the age of 48 years, 4 months, 18 days and the next oldest winner of a major was Tom Morris Sr, who won the Open Championship way back in 1867 at the age of 46 years, 3 months, 10 days.
There have been 456 professional major championships in men’s golf history, dating back to the 1860 Open Championship.
1 winner age 50 or older: @PhilMickelson
? Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) May 23, 2021
I don’t want to do Mr Morris a disservice but I’d hazard a guess that the strength of the field wasn’t quite as strong as last week’s at Kiawah Island and Prestwick certainly wouldn’t have played as long as the Ocean Course. Not only is Phil the oldest winner in history, but he did it at the longest course ever used for a major.
And he didn’t just nudge it round either, this drive at the par four 16th yesterday measured a whopping 366 yards and it was the longest hit there all day long!
Hitting 366-yard bombs. @PhilMickelson just hit the longest drive of the day on 16.pic.twitter.com/U26Mk0Hfxg
? PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 23, 2021
With ante-post pick, Branden Grace, and Find Me a 100 Winner selection, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, both sitting tied for fifth with a round to go, having both been backed at odds in excess of 300.0299/1, I was hopeful that one of the two might trade low enough to make a nice profit but it wasn’t to be.
Instead of inspiring each-other in the third to last pairing, they dragged each-other down miserably. Bez shot 77 to finish tied for 30th and Grace 78 to finish tied 38th.
I’d backed Koepka last week in Texas when he missed the cut so him being in-contention was mildly frustrating but it was nothing compared to the pain of watching Lefty performing miracles, having backed him last time out in the Wells Fargo Championship at 260.0259/1.
He was one of my Find Me a 100 Winner picks there and he did hit the first lay back target after leading after round one but he fell away tamely after that to finish tied for 69th and despite Kiawah looking ideal for him, that effort really put me off.
Links lovers shine at awe-inspiring Kiawah
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island was every bit as magnificent as I’d remembered it to be and as expected, links form came to the fore again.
Lefty and Oosthuizen have both won Open Championships and so too have Shane Lowry and the Ryder Cup captain, Padraig Harrington, who finished tied for fourth.
This is going to be the best event to look at ahead of the Open Championship in July and anyone that featured last week that holds their form will be well worthy of consideration.
A very grumpy Jon Rahm did well to finish tied for eighth in the end, but Brooks is the one that should be being cut harder than he is ahead of the Royal St Georges’ renewal in two months’ time. Given how recent his knee surgery was, and how well he was playing before the injury, odds of around 20.019/1 look too big.
Having moved from 13th to seventh in the world rankings with his tied second at Kiawah, assuming the injury clears up completely, Brooks will head to England with a strong chance.
It took Brooks a couple of Opens to find his feet (MC-T67) but he’s starting to look like a bit of a links specialist now and his last four Opens have produced form figures reading T10-T6-T39-T4.
He’ll be disappointed by yesterday’s two-over-par 74 but he won’t sulk for long and odds of anywhere near the 20/1 mark could look very juicy come July.
It’s always hard to get motivated the week after a major and especially so following one as as incredible as last week’s but we have a pair of decent tournaments to look forward to this week. The Made in Himmerland has attracted a fair field in Denmark on the European Tour and the Charles Schwab Challenge looks a cracker. I’ll be back later today or tomorrow with the previews.
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