You wanna feel old? Both Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els will both be competing in their 100th career major at this week’s PGA Championship.
For what it’s worth, Mickelson should be in the discussions for players who are one leg away from the career Grand Slam. Most of the talk since the Open Championship is the race between Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy and who will reach the Grand Slam first. This writer thinks Spieth has the best shot since McIlroy seems to let the pressure get to him at Augusta National.
A U.S. Open victory has sat on Mickelson’s shoulders throughout his career. Lefty has been a runner-up in the U.S. Open six times (1999, 2002, ’04, ’06, ’09, ’13). The most recent came at the challenging Merion Golf Club outside of Philadelphia, when he took a one-shot lead into the final round but suffered three bogeys on the back nine to lose to Justin Rose.
Perhaps he suffers from the same mental block as McIlroy.
Els made his professional golf debut as an amateur at the PGA Championship in 1989, missing the cut in his pro debut playing among the likes of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus during that tournament.
Even though he is not looking to complete the Grand Slam, Els has had a great career when it comes to the U.S. Open and the Open Championship. He won the U.S. Open twice in the 90’s (1994 and ’97) and The Open twice in the 2000’s (2002 and ’12).
Both players have one thing in common: they both would probably have a couple more majors if Tiger Woods hadn’t come into the picture and stole the show from their careers. Woods arrived during the prime of both their careers, in fact, he robbed Mickelson of a chance at a U.S. Open victory in 2002 beating Lefty by just three shots.
Mickelson, who said Tiger pushed him to be better during his career, probably would have won a lot more without him, but you never know.
Both Mickelson and Els are destined to be enshrined in Golf’s Hall of Fame, given their historical contributions to major championships and longevity on the PGA Tour.