42 PGA Tour victories. Second place on the all-time money list. Five major victories, including three green jackets and a shiny new Claret Jug. All of these accomplishments, and more, have made Phil Mickelson one of the most accomplished golfers in the history of the sport.
More importantly, at 43 years old, he looks like he’s playing some of the best golf of his career, and he’s not about ready to hang up the spikes any time soon. While most of his attention is certainly set on June 12, 2014 – the day the U.S. Open begins at Pinehurst – he’s thinking even further out than that.
When golf returns to the Olympics at the Rio de Janeiro games in 2016, Mickelson will be 46, but having Lefty represent the United States on the world’s stage would be a remarkable achievement, even for someone with his resume.
International competition seems to bring out the best in Mickelson. At this year’s President’s Cup, he carried over the same energy and excitement that he found when he was paired with Keegan Bradley at the 2012 Ryder Cup. Mickelson is already a creative, daring competitor in normal weeks, but perhaps the higher stakes of playing for his country elevate that to another level.
In a recent promotional video with his equipment sponsor, Callaway, Mickelson said that he understands that it’ll be a challenge to stay at the highest level of the game for the next three years, but if his historic win at this year’s Open Championship showed us anything, it’s that he’s going to continue to find ways to adapt his game. Once upon a time, nobody would have thought he could win at Muirfield. He took driver out of the bag, developed a killer knockdown 3-wood and is now just one step away from the career Grand Slam.
Mickelson has arguably meant nearly as much to the popularity of golf in the United States as Tiger Woods, and the two will be forever connected through their battles for majors over the last 15 years. How amazing would it be to see them walking together under Old Glory at the Olympics?