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Does Phil Mickelson Have Enough in the Tank to Win the British Open?

Getty Images
Getty Images

It’s no secret that old folks feel the effects of a rainstorm in their bones, and as a 46-year-old professional athlete, Phil Mickelson is freaking old. (For context: Brett Favre is also 46, and Shaq is only 44.) As such, it would have been logical to assume that Mickelson would struggle amid heavy rain at the British Open on Friday. But science, it seems, is no match for the ageless powers of Lefty.

After posting a jaw-dropping first-round score of 63, which was an agonizing lip-out away from setting a new major record, Mickelson entered Friday’s second round with a three-stroke lead over Patrick Reed and Martin Kaymer. But while Thursday’s conditions were nearly ideal, Friday’s forecast called for torrential downpours and blustery winds — i.e., a standard summer day in Scotland. Given Mickelson’s age and his shaky history on links courses, Friday set up as an early-tournament proving ground: If he could survive the impending monsoon at Royal Troon, then he would definitely be a contender. But this was a big “if.”

Of course, Mickelson shot a nice 69 — two under — to remain atop the leaderboard. His round was marked by a near-ace on the famed Postage Stamp hole:

Dressed in all black, Goth Mickelson was forced to use a goddamn binder clip just to keep his hat on (resourceful, if grossly unfashionable!), and he even wore two gloves throughout the round, because the elderly have no regard for sartorial elegance. The end result was that he morphed into a quasi–Uncle Drew figure, schooling the young bloods who, theoretically, should have been better equipped to handle the inclement weather. Reigning U.S. Open champ Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy tied in 15th place (with a few others), eight strokes back, and world no. 1 Jason Day is languishing in a tie for 41st. Meanwhile, world no. 3 Jordan Spieth barely made the cut.

If Mickelson holds on to win the Open, he’d be the tournament’s oldest champion since a dude literally named Old Tom Morris won it back in 1867 — who incidentally happened to be the father of Young Tom Morris, the first recipient of the Claret Jug. (Here we pause to pour one out for 2009 runner-up Tom Watson. Sorry, Tom.) In fact, Mickelson would be the fourth-oldest major winner ever, and would move up to a tie for 12th all-time on the career majors list. Sure, there’s 36 holes of golf left to be played, and conditions are expected to remain abysmal over the weekend, but with Mickelson playing “stress-free golf,” it’s more clear than ever that age is just a number.