US PGA Championship: Mickelson, Brady, Hopkins and the stars who proved age is merely a number

By Sports Desk May 24, 2021

The old adage suggests life begins at 40, and in sports there have been several instances of stars celebrating glorious triumphs in the twilight of their career.

Phil Mickelson became the latest history maker on Sunday with a memorable US PGA Championship victory at the age of 50, making him the older male major winner of all time.

A two-shot victory over Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen made Mickelson a six-time major winner, and marked his first since he topped the leaderboard at The Open in 2013, aged 43.

But Mickelson is by no means the first sportsperson to prove that age is just a number. Here we remember some of the greatest achievements by those of advancing years (at least in sporting terms…).

BRADY BUCS THE TREND AT SUPER BOWL LV

When Tom Brady ended his lengthy association with the New England Patriots, some doubted whether he could emulate his unrivalled success at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Those people were wrong. Already the oldest quarterback to have won a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots two years prior, Brady's memorable triumph with the Bucs over the Kansas City Chiefs at Super Bowl LV back in February saw him become the oldest player to win a ring, aged 43.

HOPKINS PUNCHES TICKET INTO THE HISTORY BOOKS

Boxing has a long history of fighters continuing well into their later years, and often times they prove ill-advised decisions.

But Bernard Hopkins certainly does not fall into that category. The all-time great first became boxing's oldest ever world champion when he defeated Jean Pascal in May 2011 to win the WBC and IBO light-heavyweight titles aged 46.

Two years later, he broke his own record by toppling Tavoris Cloud to win the IBF strap, and then in April 2014 – at the age of 49 – defeated Beibut Shumenov to add the WBA's belt to his collection.
 
FANGIO FINDS THE FORMULA TO SUCCESS

Revered by many as the greatest Formula One driver of all time, Juan Manuel Fangio certainly has a record to stack up against the best.

The Argentinian had seven full seasons in F1 and was world champion five times with four different teams and runner-up twice, while there were 24 wins from 51 Grands Prix.

The last of his F1 title-winning seasons occurred in 1957 at the age of 46, making him the series' oldest champion of all time.

NOTHING IS ZOFF LIMITS FOR VETERAN DINO

Dino Zoff is not the oldest player to ever feature in a World Cup fixture, that honour belongs to Essam El Hadary, who was 45 when he played in Egypt's final group-stage match against Saudi Arabia in 2018.

But the Italy legend does hold the record as the oldest player to win the World Cup when he lifted the trophy aged 40 years, four months and 13 days in a 3-1 victory over West Germany in 1982 in front of a bumper crowd of 90,000 in Madrid.

ROSEWALL AND SERENA ARE ACE

Serena Williams and her sister Venus have made a mockery of Father Time in women's tennis over the past two decades, while Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have dominated the men's game in their 30s.

But still, greatness should still be recognised and the last of Serena's grand slam titles at the 2017 Australian Open (when she was eight weeks pregnant no less!) saw her become the oldest female slam winner of all time.

In the men's game, the honour does not belong the three aforementioned modern-day greats (though who would bet against one of them doing it one day?). That benchmark lies with Ken Rosewall, who was 37 years, two months and one day old when he won in Melbourne in 1972.

PHIL TOPPLES BOROS

In the context of Mickelson's triumph, it seems only fair to mention the man who previously held golf's major benchmark.

Julius Boros was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship. Indeed, golf is a game where players can excel much later in their careers.

Tom Morris and Jack Nicklaus were both 46 when they won the last majors of their glittering careers at The Open and the Masters respectively.

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    Rory McIlroy believes he is in a "great position" as he sits within touching distance of the leaders after two rounds at the US Open, while Tiger Woods is set to miss the cut after a disappointing second round. 

    McIlroy ended Friday's action at three-under, keeping himself in contention behind Ludvig Aberg, Matthieu Pavon, Patrick Cantlay and a host of other big names.

    McIlroy, the 2011 champion, was among the early starters and bogeyed two of his first six holes to fall from the lead after starting on the 10th tee.

    However, he steadied the ship on the back nine and the leaderboard might have looked rosier had he not bogeyed his last hole of the day, the par-three ninth, having found the bunker.

    "I was not quite as good with the putter [compared to round one] but still, overall in a great position going into the weekend," McIlroy said to Sky Sports.

    "Some of the hole locations were definitely a little tougher and you sort of had to have your wits about you. I did a pretty good job at keeping some of the mistakes off the scorecard.

    "I wish I had converted a couple more of the chances. I hit the ball pretty well and think I only missed one fairway, so I had plenty of opportunities.

    "I was two over pretty early. My goal going into that second nine was if I could get it back to even for the day, I would have been pretty happy. 

    "Got that birdie on three, I was trying to claw one back there, then ultimately I gave one back again [on nine].

    "With the way the golf course is and the way some of those hole locations are, I don't see anyone running away with it."

    Aberg, Pavon and Cantlay were among the leaders as Friday's action drew to a close, with Bryson DeChambeau one shot ahead of McIlroy, alongside Thomas Detry.

    DeChambeau had a typically eventful round by mixing four bogeys with five birdies, the last of which saw him finish with a flourish on the 18th.

    Detry made a splash as he carded an impressive 67. At one stage, the Belgian held the lead after reaching six-under for the day through 14 holes, though he slipped back slightly with two bogeys in his last four. 

    Hideki Matsuyama went one better than Detry with a four-under 66 at Pinehurst No.2 to ensure he sits in the top 10 heading into the weekend, one shot behind McIlroy.

    Meanwhile, Woods followed up his opening round of 74 with a second round of 73, putting him on course to miss the cut at seven-over.

    One of the shots of the day saw Francesco Molinari avoid the same fate, though, as he sank a hole-in-one on the 18th when he required an eagle to make the weekend.

    PGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele is at one-under after posting a 69, but it was a tougher day for world number one Scottie Sheffler, who faces an anxious wait to see whether he made the cut after ending Friday five-over. 

  • US Open: McIlroy remains in contention as DeChambeau impresses US Open: McIlroy remains in contention as DeChambeau impresses

    Rory McIlroy remains in contention at the US Open despite carding a two-over 72 in his second round at Pinehurst No.2, where Bryson DeChambeau is on the charge.

    McIlroy, the 2011 champion, was among the early starters on Friday and bogeyed two of his first six holes after starting on the 10th tee.

    However, he steadied the ship on the back nine to finish the day at three under for the tournament, two shots behind his fellow overnight leader Patrick Cantlay, who is among the later starters.

    The leaderboard might have looked rosier for McIlroy had he not bogeyed his last hole of the day, the par-three ninth, having found the bunker.

    DeChambeau continued to make good ground as his one-under 69 improved him to four under for the tournament. The American had a typically eventful round by mixing four bogeys with five birdies, the last of which saw him finish with a flourish on the 18th.

    Ludvig Alberg is also at four under and was, like Cantlay, preparing to start his second round just as McIlroy and DeChambeau reached the conclusion of theirs.

    Belgian Thomas Detry was making a splash in round two. He had reached five under through 13 holes, putting him level with Cantlay going into the closing stages of his round.

    PGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele is at one under after posting a 69, but it was a tougher day for world number one Scottie Sheffler, who is five over par after carding a four-over 74 on day two.

    Scheffler now faces an anxious wait to see if he will make the cut.

  • US Open: McIlroy thrilled with 'controlled' and 'disciplined' start at Pinehurst US Open: McIlroy thrilled with 'controlled' and 'disciplined' start at Pinehurst

    Rory McIlroy believes his "controlled" and "disciplined" start will stand him in good stead at the US Open, where he is eyeing a first major triumph in 10 years.

    The three-time major winner opened with a bogey-free opening round of 65 at Pinehurst for a share of the lead with Patrick Cantlay.

    It is a good omen for McIlroy, who has gone on to lift the trophy on all three occasions he has started a major without bogeying - achieving the feat at the 2011 US Open, 2012 PGA Championship and 2014 Open Championship.

    The 35-year-old also equalled his best-ever start at a US Open, having posted 65 on the way to his 2011 victory and second-place finish 12 months ago.

    "It's nice to see your name at the top of the leaderboard after the first day of a US Open," McIlroy, who hit five birdies including two in the last three holes, told Sky Sports. 

    "I felt like I played a really solid, controlled round of golf. I just stayed disciplined and when I got myself in trouble, I took my medicine, two-putted.

    "This is the whole thing about a US Open, it's trying to keep clean scorecards like this. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to keep it bogey-free for the rest of the week. But it's not about how many birdies you make, it's about how many bogeys you don't make.

    "I had a run of pars from the 11th through to 15th where I had chances and wasn't able to convert. But I feel like the patience I showed over those five holes was rewarded with two birdies in the last three - a great way to finish.

    "I went through a run for a while where my starts at major championships weren't very good. I probably got myself a little too worked up at the start of the week.

    "Certainly, the major championships that I've won or the ones that I've played well at, I've always seemed to get off to a good start, and it's nice to get off to another one."

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