For years, Phil Mickelson's main claim to history was that he was the best golfer not to have won a major. To make things worse, he also holds the record for the most runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open, the one major he still hasn't won. It certainly isn't the kind of history you want to make.
Then, in 2004, after 14 years on the PGA Tour, he won his first major, taking home a green jacket at the Masters. On Sunday, at the PGA Championship, he won his sixth. More importantly, he can now stake his claim to history as the oldest man to ever win a major.
Until Sunday, no one over the age of 50 had ever won a major championship. Not once in 161 years and more than 450 majors. Not Arnold, or Sam, or Gary, or Ben. Not even Jack. None of the legends of the game ever won a championship at that age. Only Phil.
As remarkable as that is, there was something else that happened on Sunday--something easy to miss, but too important to overlook.
Hours before he would make history, Mickelson was facing a challenge from Brooks Koepka when he put his tee shot in the greenside bunker on the par-three fifth hole. If he was feeling the pressure, you'd never know it. His chip shot was perfect, making a birdie for the hole and increasing his lead to two shots.
"OH MY GRACIOUS!"-- CBS Sports (@CBSSports) May 23, 2021
PHIL JUST DID THAT. pic.twitter.com/wA3hu2cNxG
It may have been his biggest shot in what might be his career-defining tournament. Then, as he walked to the sixth hole, Mickelson handed over the ball to a young fan in a wheelchair, who could barely contain his excitement.
It's not the first time a golfer has ever done this, but here's why I love it:
Mickelson had been off to a slow start to his final round, but that shot almost certainly changed the trajectory of the tournament. He was having a good day. He was headed towards a historic victory and on his way, he made time to share a little bit of it with a fan.
To be fair, it didn't take much at all. But, really, that's the point. It cost Mickelson almost nothing. It literally required a few seconds of his time and a golf ball. Let's be honest, the man has more golf balls at his disposal than any human could need.
No one would have faulted Mickelson if he hadn't even noticed the fan. He had just started the final round of what might the biggest tournament of his life. He had just made an incredible chip out of the bunker to take a two-shot lead. Things were looking in the direction of history, but his simple effort no doubt had an extraordinary effect on the life of that fan.
The lesson is this--to the extent you are able, do everything you can to spread joy and delight to the people around you. The return on investment here is incredible. It often costs almost nothing but can make a huge impact on the lives of those around you.
And, I'm not talking about the kind of impact you make when you add another major to your resume. That's a historic accomplishment, and it's definitely a big deal. Even better, however, is what happens when you make them feel noticed. That kind of impact is about more than history--it's epic.