Welcome to the May Pro Golf Wrap-Up – everything you need to know in the world of golf expertly curated by your friends at Global Golf Management.
The biggest story in golf in the month of May was, in fact, a very big story. Because it was surprising. And historic. And featured one of the biggest names in the game and one of the all-time greats.
Phil Mickelson, a month shy of 51 years old, won the 103rd PGA Championship on May 24 at the brutal Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C. It was his second PGA title, 16 years after his first, and his sixth major championship win. It was his 45th career PGA TOUR title. And it made him the oldest man to win a major, eclipsing a mark held for 53 years by Julius Boros, who had won the 50th PGA Championship in 1968 at the age of 48.
“This is just an incredible feeling because I just believed that it was possible but yet everything was saying it wasn’t,” Mickelson, 50, said after shooting a 1-over 73 and beating Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen by two strokes. “I hope that others find that inspiration. It might take a little extra work, a little bit harder effort to maintain physically or maintain the skills, but gosh, is it worth it in the end.”
Entering the week ranked 115th in the world, Mickelson hadn’t recorded a top-10 finish all season but somehow summoned the resolve to hold on for his first win in more than two years with a 6-under 282 total. He last won at the 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
South Africa’s Oosthuizen also had a 73 in his fifth runner-up finish in a major while Koepka, playing despite his surgically repaired right knee was less than 100 percent, closed with a 74.
Mickelson now own three Masters Tournament titles, two PGAs and a British Open crown, which he won in 2013, his last major win before his surprise triumph at Kiawah Island.
Other PGA TOUR winners in May were Rory McIlroy, who won for the first time in more than two years, and Sam Burns and K.H. Lee, who won for the first time ever on TOUR. On the ladies’ side, Asia dominated with wins by, in order, Hyo Joo Kim, Ariya Jutanugarn and Wei-Ling Hsu. Mississippi’s Ally Ewing won the final event of the month.
With a closing 3-under-par 68, McIlroy won for the 19th time in his PGA TOUR career and 27th time worldwide to break the second-longest winless drought of his career, dating to the HSBC Champions in China in November 2019. He beat Abraham Ancer by one shot with a 10-under 274 total, leaving Ancer, who shot 66, with his fourth runner-up finish.
Third-round leader Keith Mitchell dropped into a tie for third with Viktor Hovland after a 72.
Sam Burns had endured several disappointments before finally breaking through in Palm Harbor, Fla., at the Valspar Championship. The Louisiana native, 24, carded a 3-under 68 amid windy conditions to beat Keegan Bradley by three shots.
The former Jack Nicklaus Award winner as Division I Collegiate Player of the Year, Burns completed 72 holes in 17-under 267 on the difficult Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort. Bradley, tied with Burns after three rounds, closed with a 71.
Burns nearly won a second consecutive start, but instead finished second to K.H. Lee of Korea, who shot a final-round 6-under 66 at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, and leapfrogged over Burns for a three-stroke victory in the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Though he had won tournaments in Korea and Japan, Lee, 29, hadn’t broken through in the U.S. for two years until capturing the Nelson in his 80th PGA TOUR start. He completed 72 holes in the rain-interrupted tournament in 25-under 263.
The LPGA spent two weeks abroad before returning to the U.S. for one event in May.
In Singapore, Hyo Joo Kim won her fourth LPGA title by shooting a final-round 64 to capture the HSBC Women’s World Championship by one stroke over Hannah Green. Kim finished at 17-under 271 at the Sentosa Golf Club, Tanjong Course.
In Thailand, it was an emotional moment for Ariya Jutanugarn, who won in her home country by capturing the Honda LPGA Thailand. She is the first player from Thailand to win the $1.6 million tournament held at Siam Country Club.
A sterling final-round 63 lifted Jutanugarn to a one-stroke victory over fellow Thai player Atthaya Thitkul with a 22-under 266 total. Jutanugarn won for the first time in more than 1,000 days to post her 11th career LPGA victory.
Another Jutanugarn nearly won the following week at the Pure Silk Championship presented by Visit Williamsburg, but it was not to be for Ariya’s sister, Moriya, as Wei-Ling Hsu rallied to beat her thanks to an eagle on the par-5 15th hole at the River Course at Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va.
Hsu, of Taiwan, won her first LPGA title with a 3-under 68 and 13-under 271 total to beat Jutanugarn, who got into the field as an alternate, by two strokes. Jutanugarn was leading until the 15th but made a double bogey on the same hole that Hsu eagled, and that was enough to flip the results.
Ally Ewing was the last woman standing in the last event of the month, winning her second LPGA title at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas.
The 28-year-old former Mississippi State player defeated Germany’s Sophia Popov, the reigning Women’s British Open champion, 2 and 1, amid a difficult course and high temperatures. She had won her first tour title in October playing under her maiden name, McDonald. On Sunday, she won on her first anniversary of her wedding Charlie Ewing, the MSU women’s golf coach. She reached the final by defeating Ariya Jutanugarn, 3 and 2, earlier in the day, while Popov stopped Shanshan Feng, 1 up. Jutanugarn was credited with finishing third when Feng conceded the consolation match because of fatigue due to the heat.
The women have the next major on the schedule with this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco. Two weeks later, the 121st U.S. Open also will be staged in California at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego.
Stay tuned here and on Global Golf Management Twitter for next month’s Pro Golf Wrap-Up.