Everyone in attendance at the 2021 PGA Championship knew what was at stake when Phil Mickelson set out to win his sixth major championship from the final pairing on Sunday afternoon at Kiawah Island. Mickelson was set to break the record for oldest winner in major championship history, and the moment was intensified with the fans in the gallery surrounding him over the final few holes.
As COVID-19 restrictions loosen throughout the country, the mere presence of a full gallery at golf majors is still a new sight, but you could sense how the crowds impacted the tournament all week. On Sunday, the scene around Mickelson and Brooks Koepka grew more intense throughout the round, and when the final pairing hit the 18th hole, it hit a fever pitch.
Mickelson held a two-stroke lead on Koepka, a four-time major winner still hoping for a misstep by Lefty that could open the door for his third PGA Championship win in four years. Both golfers faced approach shots on the 18th hole with the scenario that a bogey for Mickelson and a birdie for Koepka would lead to a tie and a playoff. Lefty went first, and he hit it right on line to solidify the chances that he was about to make history.
The crowd filled in behind the final pairing as they made their way up the fairway, and it made for an iconic scene that served as an epic backdrop for a historic win.
Mickelson said after the victory that the fans contributed to the once-in-a-career moment.
"I don't think I've ever had an experience like that, so thank you for that. Slightly unnerving but exceptionally awesome," Mickelson said of the fan support at Kiawah Island. "All the way back to the 1991 Ryder Cup, you've always supported the game of golf. So thank you for that."