Largely thanks to Phil Mickelson becoming the oldest major champion ever at Kiawah Island, PGA ratings increased by 19% from last year’s PGA Championship.
Sports Media Watch reported that viewership was also up 28% from 2020, and that it rated even higher than the NBA playoff game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns.
Mickelson turns 51 next month, and hadn’t won on the PGA Tour since February 2019. However, Lefty’s fortunes changed abruptly in South Carolina as he went on to claim the Wanamaker Trophy by two strokes over Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen.
An incredible scene with numerous fans crowding the green at the 72nd hole certainly added to the unique atmosphere, as peak viewership reached just over 13 million.
The fact that Koepka was chasing a third PGA Championship victory while playing months ahead of schedule on an injured knee heightened the drama.
Despite a strong push by Koepka, and Oosthuizen working his way into contention amid blustery, difficult conditions, Mickelson prevailed in the end with a combination of clutch putting, timely shot-making and some monster drives down the stretch to seal the deal.
Phil Mickelson’s career Grand Slam pursuit should keep PGA ratings healthy
The landmark triumph marked Mickelson’s sixth major victory and second PGA Championship, as he’d previously claimed the 2005 title at Baltusrol. He’s won the Masters Tournament three times, and claimed the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield.
In lieu of the legendary Tiger Woods, Mickelson is among the biggest golf personalities who can actually move the needle. Although the game has lots of young, talented players, there’s no doubting Mickelson’s star power.
One perpetually elusive achievement Mickelson still lacks on his Hall of Fame resume is a U.S. Open. Winning that event would give him the career Grand Slam, which only Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen have achieved in the modern era.
After his return to glory at the PGA Championship, you can bet all eyes will be on Mickelson whenever he tees it up, but particularly in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in June. That venue just so happens to be in Mickelson’s hometown of San Diego, California.