Mickelson, Els reach milestone in 100th major championship
CHARLOTTE, N.C.» On the monitor below them was a photo from the first time they met. The 14-year-old South African with an easy smile was holding the winner’s trophy from the 1984 Junior World Championship. Next to him was the golden boy from San Diego, slightly taller at the time, holding his trophy as the runner-up.
Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson are still going at it, rarely rivals, always friends.
The next time playing together, this week at the PGA Championship, marks a special occasion for both. Three decades later, Els and Mickelson join an elite club by competing in their 100th major championship.
Els won his first one in 1994 at the U.S. Open at Oakmont.
Mickelson didn’t win his first major until he was 34, at the Masters, and it came at the expense of Els. Mickelson holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole. Els, on the putting green hopeful of a playoff, heard the ground-shaking roar, picked up his golf balls and walked off. He never won a green jacket.
They become the 13th and 14th players to reach 100 majors, a list that starts with Jack Nicklaus and his 164. He is followed by Gary Player, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer, Raymond Floyd, Sam Snead, Ben Crenshaw, Gene Sarazen, Tom Kite, Mark O’Meara, Bernhard Langer and Nick Faldo, who played his 100th and final major at St. Andrews in the British Open two years ago.
The PGA of America had photos from the first major they played (Els at the 1989 British Open, Mickelson at the 1990 U.S. Open); the victories in the majors (five for Mickelson, four for Els); and yes, that 1984 Junior World.
“Phil has had a great time, winning five. I’ve won four,” Els said. “But we’ve been in the hunt many, many other times and it didn’t quite come off.”