Phil Mickelson wins 2021 PGA at age 50 and outdrives Brooks Koepka
In a fantastic 2021 PGA Championship held at the magnificent Kiawah Island Ocean course, 50-year-old Phil Mickelson proved that age is no barrier when lifting the famed Wanamaker Trophy. While Phil is well known for his magical short game, especially being king of the ‘pancake flipper’ (as a commentator called his flattest wedge on CBS), some may have been surprised to see Phil outdriving Brooks Koepka coming down the stretch, especially on the downwind par 5 16th. Here we see a picture according to the PGA official stats of their monster drives on this hole
Yes, 50-year-old Phil hit his drive 365 yards, even outdriving Brooks at his own whopping 361 yards. How did he manage to outdrive a man known for being one of the longest hitters on tour? The commentators on CBS noted how high he was teeing it as he faced such a downwind drive which is the secret-Phil has become one of the highest ball launchers on tour, and a high ball launch downwind is the formulae for maximum distance.
Delving into the numbers available on the official PGA Tour site shows us that Phil has now become the second highest launching pro on tour, with an average launch of 13.86 degrees (May 2021 YTD) versus Brook’s more ‘normal’ 10.92 degrees (96th place). Even though Phil is no slouch with clubhead speed coming in this year at a very impressive 117.84mph (especially for a 50-year-old), he is not as fast as Brook’s 120.26mph (19th place on tour 2021), however, downwind his higher launch still enabled him to outdrive Brooks and secure the birdie that allowed him to breathe that little bit easier walking onto the intimidating 17th tee.
We examined the history of Phil’s tour launch angle here.