Mickelson, Els celebrate 100 majors milestone

When a sweet-swinging teenager from South Africa pulled off a wedge shot, 30 yards out from the green that checked up a foot from the hole, Phil Mickelson new he had his work cut out.

It was the 1984 Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego and a 14 year old Mickelson was the hometown hero.

Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els (Credit: PGA Tour)

Unfortunately for the future champ, his suspicions proved correct as that very same teenager who went by the name of Ernie Els went on to beat him for the title.

“Do you see how grumpy Phil looks there?” says Els of a post-match photo of the two.

“It was quite a while ago, I can tell you. We had a great time.”

“It was my first time in the United States and what a place to go play golf at in San Diego. I guess that was the first time we met.”

A mere 33 years later Phil Mickelson isn’t quite as salty.

And that’s perfectly understandable given they would go on to win nine majors titles between them.

The 100 Majors Club

  1. Jack Nicklaus – 164
  2. Gary Player – 150
  3. Tom Watson – 145
  4. Arnold Palmer – 142
  5. Raymond Floyd – 127
  6. Sam Snead – 119
  7. Ben Crenshaw – 118
  8. Gene Sarazen – 112
  9. Tom Kite – 109
  10. Mark O’Meara – 109
  11. Bernhard Langer – 104
  12. Sir Nick Faldo – 100
  13. Ernie Els – 100
  14. Phil Mickelson – 100

And in a twist that’s both sweet and fitting, the teenage rivals both competed in their 100th major Championship last weekend, a feat that only 12 other players in history have accomplished.

“It just goes by so fast; you don’t think about it,” says Mickelson. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

“We get to play golf, what most people do on vacation, as our job, and it’s the greatest job in the world.”

“And playing major championships is what we dreamt about as kids.”

In a special press conference before last weekend’s US PGA at Quail Hollow, the pair spoke about their careers, and staying in contention for as long as they have.

“Just to be able to compete and to be able to be in contention,” said Els, of winning a Major Championship.

“It’s a hell of a thrill. It’s what we play for, what we practice for; and you want to pull off great shots in the bigger stage.”

Sadly both these legends of the game had a rare weekend off when Els (80-70) and Mickelson (79-74) missed the hallway cut at Quail Hollow after two rounds marred by missed opportunities.