PGA of America apologises after crowds mob Koepka and Mickelson

50-year-old US PGA winner says he has been inspired by longevity of Tom Brady

Phil Mickelson is surrounded by fans and security on the 18th at Kiawah Island. Photograph: Matt York/AP

Phil Mickelson is surrounded by fans and security on the 18th at Kiawah Island. Photograph: Matt York/AP

 

The head of the PGA of America has apologised to champion Phil Mickelson and runner-up Brooks Koepka after they were mobbed by fans on the 18th fairway at the US PGA Championship.

The playing partners were surrounded by spectators when Mickelson hit a superb approach to the 18th, with the eventual victor needing assistance from security guards to force his way onto the green.

PGA of America chief executive Seth Waugh said in a statement: “While we welcome enthusiastic fan engagement, we regret that a moment of high elation and pent-up emotion by spectators ... briefly overwhelmed security and made two players and their caddies feel vulnerable.”

Mickelson described the experience at the time as “slightly unnerving, but exceptionally awesome”, but Koepka was not so amused.

“It would have been cool if I didn’t have a knee injury and got dinged a few times in the knee in that crowd because no one really gave a s***,” said Koepka, who had surgery to deal with a knee cap dislocation and ligament damage on March 16th.

“It’s cool for Phil, but getting dinged a few times isn’t exactly my idea of fun.

“I don’t think anybody really understands until actually you’re coming out of surgery how ... I mean, even when I was doing rehab and there’s five people kind of standing by your knee, you get a little skittish.”

Waugh appeared to take Koepka’s concern into account, saying: “We always put player safety at the top of our list and are grateful that order was restored.

“I have spoken to both players and apologised on behalf of the association.”

Mickelson held his nerve during a pulsating final round at Kiawah Island to win his sixth major title, 16 years after lifting the Wanamaker Trophy for his first US PGA title.

The extraordinary victory made the 50-year-old the oldest major champion in history.

Meanwhile Mickelson has said he had been inspired by the success of Tampa Bay Buccaners’ evergreen quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady, who won six Super Bowls in 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, left the franchise before signing a two-year, $50 million contract with the Bucs last year, starting all 20 games in 2020.

The 43-year-old quarterback played through most of the season with discomfort in his knee but managed to guide the Bucs to their second Super Bowl title in February.

“So I’m very inspired by Tom Brady,” Mickelson told ESPN.

“He’s actually a big motivation, because of how hard he works to be the best and to elongate his career.

“There’s no reason why at an older age you cannot be at your best,” added the six-times major winner.

“It just takes a little more work. I wasn’t getting the results -- but I believed it, and I had people believe in me.”

Mickelson and seven-times Super bowl champion Brady teamed up for a charity golf match against Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning in Florida last year that raised $20 million for Covid-19 relief efforts.

“I want to get in another match with (Brady) because spending time with him, it’s inspiring,” he added.

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