Phil Mickelson leads by a shot over Brooks Koepka heading into Sunday’s final round at the PGA Championship.
That’s fairly incredible considering Mickelson is 50 years old; he’d be the oldest men’s major winner in history if he pulls it off. Either way, the final round looks like an entertaining watch, and today’s third round was plenty interesting as well. Mickelson played his first ten holes in five-under par, threatening to run away from the field, before some trouble off the tee saw him drop a few shots back down the stretch.
But amidst that fantastic front nine, Mickelson clearly felt dialed in. So dialed in, in fact, that when a camera drone hovered near the fourth green as Mickelson prepared for his approach shot, he backed off and asked for it to be moved. CBS caught the entire exchange, too:
Phil backs off due to a drone pic.twitter.com/UKNeiCKQn4
— The IC Workstation (@ClippelBoardy) May 22, 2021
Nick Faldo didn’t quite grasp what was happening, mentioning a vague distraction near the green, but Jim Nantz and on-course reporter Dottie Pepper knew what was up.
Phil continues to be distracted by the drone: pic.twitter.com/0CLtI8nZrQ
— The IC Workstation (@ClippelBoardy) May 23, 2021
Pepper’s dripping “It’s moving, but I don’t think it was ever a threat. No chance.”
After all that, Mickelson ended up pushing his iron into the back left bunker (or, as they’re known this week, “sandy area”) from which he got up and down for a par. This exchange delighted Twitter:
New level of sauce (!): Asking them to move the drone because you're going to hit it.
Dottie: "No chance." pic.twitter.com/RrjCeZdT8e
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) May 22, 2021
Wake me up when Phil makes them move the drone on a flop shot
— ANTIFAldo (@ANTIFAldo) May 22, 2021
"Fly that drone in my line again" pic.twitter.com/LDyifNQnAH
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) May 22, 2021
Mickelson is known for being so precise with irons and wedges that he’s had a caddie tend flags on shots from upwards of 100 yards and out. But in this case, the idea that the camera drone was in any way going to knock his ball out of the sky (or vice versa) is just absurd.
But, on the other hand: that’s Phil! He says and does a lot of absurd things, often related to overestimating his own ability to do things on the golf course. That’s what’s made him such an entertaining and compelling figure for nearly thirty years now. It’s also what makes him a real threat to set a record tomorrow that might never be broken; considering how golf is skewing towards younger talent in the era of distance and athleticism, it’s very difficult to imagine another 50+ player winning a major.
Ironically the best bet to do it again might actually be Phil himself.