US PGA Championship: Mickelson, Brady, Hopkins and the stars who proved age is merely a number

By Sports Desk May 24, 2021

The old adage suggests life begins at 40, and in sports there have been several instances of stars celebrating glorious triumphs in the twilight of their career.

Phil Mickelson became the latest history maker on Sunday with a memorable US PGA Championship victory at the age of 50, making him the older male major winner of all time.

A two-shot victory over Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen made Mickelson a six-time major winner, and marked his first since he topped the leaderboard at The Open in 2013, aged 43.

But Mickelson is by no means the first sportsperson to prove that age is just a number. Here we remember some of the greatest achievements by those of advancing years (at least in sporting terms…).

BRADY BUCS THE TREND AT SUPER BOWL LV

When Tom Brady ended his lengthy association with the New England Patriots, some doubted whether he could emulate his unrivalled success at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Those people were wrong. Already the oldest quarterback to have won a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots two years prior, Brady's memorable triumph with the Bucs over the Kansas City Chiefs at Super Bowl LV back in February saw him become the oldest player to win a ring, aged 43.

HOPKINS PUNCHES TICKET INTO THE HISTORY BOOKS

Boxing has a long history of fighters continuing well into their later years, and often times they prove ill-advised decisions.

But Bernard Hopkins certainly does not fall into that category. The all-time great first became boxing's oldest ever world champion when he defeated Jean Pascal in May 2011 to win the WBC and IBO light-heavyweight titles aged 46.

Two years later, he broke his own record by toppling Tavoris Cloud to win the IBF strap, and then in April 2014 – at the age of 49 – defeated Beibut Shumenov to add the WBA's belt to his collection.
 
FANGIO FINDS THE FORMULA TO SUCCESS

Revered by many as the greatest Formula One driver of all time, Juan Manuel Fangio certainly has a record to stack up against the best.

The Argentinian had seven full seasons in F1 and was world champion five times with four different teams and runner-up twice, while there were 24 wins from 51 Grands Prix.

The last of his F1 title-winning seasons occurred in 1957 at the age of 46, making him the series' oldest champion of all time.

NOTHING IS ZOFF LIMITS FOR VETERAN DINO

Dino Zoff is not the oldest player to ever feature in a World Cup fixture, that honour belongs to Essam El Hadary, who was 45 when he played in Egypt's final group-stage match against Saudi Arabia in 2018.

But the Italy legend does hold the record as the oldest player to win the World Cup when he lifted the trophy aged 40 years, four months and 13 days in a 3-1 victory over West Germany in 1982 in front of a bumper crowd of 90,000 in Madrid.

ROSEWALL AND SERENA ARE ACE

Serena Williams and her sister Venus have made a mockery of Father Time in women's tennis over the past two decades, while Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have dominated the men's game in their 30s.

But still, greatness should still be recognised and the last of Serena's grand slam titles at the 2017 Australian Open (when she was eight weeks pregnant no less!) saw her become the oldest female slam winner of all time.

In the men's game, the honour does not belong the three aforementioned modern-day greats (though who would bet against one of them doing it one day?). That benchmark lies with Ken Rosewall, who was 37 years, two months and one day old when he won in Melbourne in 1972.

PHIL TOPPLES BOROS

In the context of Mickelson's triumph, it seems only fair to mention the man who previously held golf's major benchmark.

Julius Boros was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship. Indeed, golf is a game where players can excel much later in their careers.

Tom Morris and Jack Nicklaus were both 46 when they won the last majors of their glittering careers at The Open and the Masters respectively.

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