Phil Mickelson confirms that he has reached the back nine of his PGA Tour career.

February 29, 2024

During a discussion about his professional timeline on the PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy revisited a previous comment he had made regarding Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Rory McIlroy was once criticized for suggesting that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were nearing the end of their successful golf careers.

However, ten years later, at 34-years-old, he has admitted to being in a similar position himself – on either the tenth green or eleventh tee – as he continues his impressive run on the PGA Tour.

Before his first appearance at the Cognizant Classic in Palm Beach since 2018, McIlroy joked about how he received backlash a few years ago for suggesting that Phil and Tiger were nearing the end of their careers. “I turned pro in ’07, so this is my 17th year,” he mentioned. He acknowledged that if another 17 years go by, he’ll be around 51 years old – implying that he’s already close to winding down his career on either the tenth green or eleventh tee.

As the Florida Swing kickstarts his Masters preparation, McIlroy – touted as a frontrunner at PGA National – revisits comments he had made during the 2014 Tour Championship.

At that time, the budding prodigy appeared to be pushing aside two golfing greats towards their retirement.

As time passes, Phil and Tiger are aging. With Phil being around 43 years old or so and Tiger nearing 40, it seems they’re approaching the final stretch of their careers – a natural occurrence as one gets older.

It’s no secret that things become more challenging with age. I suppose in another two decades, I’ll be able to speak from experience about how it feels myself.”

That evening, McIlroy defended his comments on Twitter using basic mathematics as the foundation for his argument.

It’s perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that golfers typically have a career span of 20-25 years, and are usually in the latter half of their careers.

By 2014, Tiger and Phil had already spent over two decades in their PGA Tour careers.

Although Woods (48) and Mickelson (53) would go on to win one more major title each (Woods at the 2019 Masters and Mickelson at the 2021 PGA Championship), they have since fallen out of competition for top honors in golf’s most prominent events.

At just 24 years old, McIlroy was already an accomplished golfer with four major titles to his name when he prematurely eulogized two legendary players.

But now, as a seasoned and experienced four-time major champion, he’s aware of the passing time and knows that his prime won’t last forever.

Even though he can still drive the ball with tremendous force, McIlroy understands that soon enough his competitive days will come to an end.

The 24-time tour champion acknowledged that while the past 10 seasons have been fruitful, not having won a major makes it difficult to claim total success.

However, they also understand that future evaluation will focus on their performance in those tournaments along with other accomplishments.

McIlroy acknowledged that maintaining his motivation to compete for the next 17 years may prove difficult, but aiming to remain at a high level for another decade is entirely feasible.

“Sure, go for the green jacket and make your exit.”

One could only hope that he was joking because it was difficult to discern with Rory on Wednesday