With six victories for him and one fewer for her, they are seventh and eighth in their respective Grand Slam champions’ rankings.

He is unquestionably one of the world’s most popular golfers. With his affable demeanour and his taste for risky shots in the most compromising situations, Phil Mickelson made history this year by becoming, at the age of 50, the oldest player to win a major. He secured the 2021 PGA Championship title against the odds, with Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen trailing two strokes behind.

It was Mickelson’s sixth major, in the second Grand Slam event of the year (in May), allowing him to relive distant moments of glory. “This is just an incredible feeling because I believed it was possible, but everything was saying it wasn’t,” said the golden-touched southpaw from San Diego, who had not won for more than two years and whose last victory in a major had been almost eight years ago. In fact, he hadn't been a serious contender for a Grand Slam title in five years.

For 53 years Julius Boros held on to the distinction of being the oldest major championship winner; he was 48 when he won the PGA Championship in San Antonio in 1968.

In his young amateur days, San Diego-born Mickelson dominated the college ranks at Arizona State, earning All-America honours four times and matching a Jack Nicklaus feat in 1990 by winning the U.S. Amateur and the NCAA championship in the same year. He won the 1991 Northern Telecom Open as a college junior – becoming only the second amateur since 1954 to win a U.S. PGA Tour event.

Then the fairytale ride took some wild, unexpected turns. Although he had amassed 22 wins in his first 12 years on Tour, Mickelson was a staggering 0 for 46 in majors. At the 2004 US Masters, he finally conquered his demons, draining a six-metre putt on the 18th to win his first major. His joyous leap as the gallery erupted has become one of the tournament’s iconic images.

He followed that with the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol, where, in his signature style, he nearly gave the tournament away before making a birdie on the 72nd hole to win the title.

Mickelson picked up his second Green Jacket in 2006, but this time he did it in style. At one point in the final round, he was in a five-way tie for first. But by the 16th hole Mickelson was up by four shots and was able to bask in the crowd’s applause as he walked up the final fairway.

Four years and no major titles later, the whispers returned. Could he still do it? No one really knew.

So there he was again, in the trees, the glory of a third Green Jacket on the line, with another important decision. But was there ever any doubt? Adoring fans all over the world call him Phil the Thrill for a reason. As he stepped up to the shot, CBS commentator and World Golf Hall of Fame member Sir Nick Faldo could only muster, “Oh my goodness.”

When the shot cleared the bank of Rae’s Creek by mere centimetres and settled one metre from the hole, the roar shook the pines at Augusta. “The greatest shot of his life!” Faldo exclaimed.

Mickelson went on to win his third Green Jacket, becoming just the eighth player in history to have three or more Masters wins.

All majors are special, but this one had even greater significance for the Mickelson family. His wife Amy was diagnosed the year before with breast cancer. That she was even in the gallery with the family was a victory – it was the first tournament Amy had the strength to attend since she began treatment. As Phil and Amy embraced afterward, the tears could almost have filled Rae’s Creek.

In 2012, Mickelson earned his 40th career PGA Tour title, continuing to consolidate his ascent into the pantheon of golf’s all-time greats. His legacy, however, may be in the special bond he has created with golf fans. Many have called him the Arnold Palmer of his generation.

When Mickelson won his first Masters title, Alan Shipnuck of Sports Illustrated attempted to explain Lefty’s impact. “As a phenom back in 1991, Mickelson was saddled with the tag of the ‘Next Nicklaus’, but he has always had a lot more in common with Palmer. Both have made an intensely personal connection with fans, thanks to an agreeable, approachable manner and a go-for-broke style. They have also been defined as much by their shattering defeats as by their many triumphs.”


Yani Tseng – the Taiwan Tigress

Yani Tseng's golfing story could best be described as convulsive. She went from being at the top of the world to suffering a downturn in her fortunes from which she has not yet recovered. And she's still only 32 years old.

Tseng was one of the top Asian players who took over the baton from golfing pioneer Se-Ri Pak, whose victory in the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open inspired the subsequent strong wave of female stars from the Far East.

After Korea’s Pak was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame at just 29 years of age, Tseng was also expected to make a huge mark on the sport. Known as the Taiwan Tigress, she herself made history in the 2011 Nabisco Women's British Open, held at Carnoustie in Scotland. Tseng, then 22 years old, won the British Open for a second consecutive year, defeating Brittany Lang by four strokes to become the youngest player – either male and female – to secure a fifth career major.

Yani Tseng seemed destined for an even more promising career, but something happened that upset her plans and expectations. Her game suffered an unexpected downturn at the end of the 2012 season, and a year later she had dropped in the world rankings from first place to 38th. In 2014 her fall continued and she finished the year 84th. Five years after her fifth major, Tseng had dropped to 102nd place, at the end of 2018 she was 328th and she currently languishes at 1,300 in the world rankings.

There were no injuries or other explanations for such a sudden decline in Tseng's performance. “I was playing really well during practice rounds,” she said, “but once it was tournament time it was like I lost control of my mind, of my swing, my body. I had no confidence.”

In 2019 she suffered a back injury that caused pain in her left leg. She opted to rest rather than undergo surgery and she was scheduled to compete again last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic sent her back to Taiwan, where she remained until earlier this year. She continues to play on the LPGA Tour, but her results remain light years distant from what she achieved when she was at the pinnacle of the sport.

Born on 23 January 1989, Tseng showed clear signs of her golfing potential from a young age. She was the top-ranked amateur in Taiwan from 2004 to 2006, and the highlight of her amateur career was winning the 2004 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links event, defeating Michelle Wie in the final by one hole.

She turned professional in January 2007, competing on the Ladies Asian Golf Tour where she won the DLF Women’s Indian Open. She also competed on that year’s CN Canadian Women’s Tour, winning the tour event played at Vancouver Golf Club.

She entered the LPGA Qualifying Tournament in autumn 2007 and finished sixth in the final qualifier in December, which gave her full playing privileges on the LPGA Tour for 2008. In June 2008, she secured her first tour victory at the LPGA Championship to become the first player from Taiwan to win an LPGA major championship. At 19, she was also the youngest player to win the LPGA Championship and the second youngest to win an LPGA major. Not surprisingly, she was named LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2008.

In March 2009, Tseng became the fastest player in LPGA history to reach the $2 million mark in career earnings. She achieved this in 32 events, spanning one year, one month and 13 days. The previous record was held by Paula Creamer, who reached the mark in one year, four months and 15 days in 2006.

In April 2010 Tseng won the first major championship of the LPGA season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, by one stroke. She went on to win her second major of the year, the Women's British Open, in August by one stroke, becoming the youngest woman in the modern era to win three major championships. LPGA founder Patty Berg was younger than Tseng when she won the 1939 Titleholders Championship but that was before the formation of the LPGA Tour in 1950 and the designation of official LPGA major tournaments.

In September 2010, Tseng was offered a five-year sponsorship deal from a Chinese company valued at NT$1 billion (US$25 million) with access to a luxury villa and private jets. She rejected the offer because one of the requirements of the deal was that she switch her citizenship to the People's Republic of China from the Republic of China (Taiwan).

In January 2011, Tseng defended her title at the Taifong Ladies Open on the LPGA of Taiwan Tour. Three weeks later she won the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open and a week after that the ANZ RACV Ladies Masters, both events co-sponsored by the ALPG Tour and the Ladies European Tour.

Her wins moved her up to number one position in the women's world golf rankings. She won again the following week in the first tournament of the LPGA season, the Honda LPGA Thailand.

In June 2011, she won the LPGA State Farm Classic over Cristie Kerr by three strokes; and two weeks later she was victorious in the LPGA Championship, making her the youngest player to win four LPGA majors.