US PGA Championship: Mickelson makes history with sixth major crown

By Sports Desk May 23, 2021

Phil Mickelson became the oldest major winner in golf history after claiming the US PGA Championship.

Mickelson made history thanks to the 50-year-old American's two-stroke victory at Kiawah Island on Sunday, eclipsing Julius Boros (48 years and four months at the 1968 PGA Championship).

A final-round 73 saw Mickelson clinch a second PGA Championship title, having also tasted success in 2005, and sixth major crown.

Mickelson's remarkable triumph at six under ended an eight-year major drought after last reigning supreme via the 2013 Open Championship, while he had not won on the PGA Tour since 2019.

Louis Oosthuizen (73) and four-time major champion Brooks Koepka (74) – a two-time PGA Championship winner – finished tied for second in South Carolina.

Mickelson carried a one-shot lead over Koepka into the final round and he had to overcome a slow start in his stunning title pursuit.

It was a tough and chaotic front nine for Mickelson, who bogeyed his opening hole and dropped the third, having responded with a birdie.

Mickelson mixed a pair of birdies with a bogey from the fifth to the seventh hole approaching the turn.

A birdie at the 10th boosted Mickelson, who then holed back-to-back bogeys after his approach shot at the 13th found water.

Mickelson recovered to gain a stroke at the 16th and while he bogeyed the 17th, Koepka and Oosthuizen were unable to take advantage after also ending the deciding round over the card.

Shane Lowry (69), Padraig Harrington (69), Harry Higgs (70) and Paul Casey (71) earned a share of fourth position – four strokes behind Mickelson.

Defending champion Collin Morikawa's bid for back-to-back titles ended in a tie for eighth spot, alongside the likes of Jon Rahm (68), Justin Rose (67), Rickie Fowler (71) and Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris (70), while Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (72) closed out the event tied for 23rd.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth and his quest to claim a career Grand Slam resulted in a share of 30th at two over, a stroke better off than reigning U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau (77).

As for four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, he ended the tournament in disappointing fashion with a 72 to finish five over.

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  • Serie A champions 2021-22: Modern Milan's title win and where to from here? Serie A champions 2021-22: Modern Milan's title win and where to from here?

    For a club like Milan, 11 years make for a long wait.

    Let alone the enormous hierarchical changes that have taken place at Casa Milan over that period, with turbulent changes of ownership and coaches that have impacted various transformations in approach both on and off the pitch, those 11 years in European football have witnessed a seismic tactical shift.

    The Rossoneri's last Serie A title in 2010-11 sits as a stark contrast to this year's title charge that ended in success, glory sealed on Sunday with a 3-0 win at Sassuolo.

    In 2010-11, the Scudetto was like a perfect storm – upon Massimiliano Allegri's hiring as coach, Alexandre Pato was coming into his own before injuries started to take their toll, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were solidifying their respective statuses as world-class footballers in their positions, amid the career tail-ends of Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta.

    That Milan team was inherently reflective of its time, leaning on the likes of Ibrahimovic, Pato and Robinho to provide goals, moments and the eventual title. Despite Ibrahimovic's added contribution of 12 assists that season, their equal share of 14 league goals each was fitting. But coming into the final game of the season this weekend, Rafael Leao was the only Milan player to have scored over 10 goals.

    Reflecting the totality of role that midfields at the top of European football must now characterise, Milan have effectively challenged for the Scudetto this season – and last season – without a front third it can lean on. Less diplomatically, Milan's front third has been a collection of misfit toys jumbled together as the purse strings have tightened.

    Despite falling away after Christmas, it is what made last season's run so distinct, for it was ultimately volatile in the second half of the season and served as a precursor to this term. Following Ismael Bennacer and Ibrahimovic's injuries against Napoli in November 2020, Milan were performing the proverbial smash and grab on a weekly basis, on the back of Franck Kessie's penalty exploits and Theo Hernandez doing Theo Hernandez things at left-back. Their 3-2 win over Lazio coming into that Christmas was a particularly distinct example.

    How has this Milan team achieved this Serie A title with a largely dysfunctional frontline in possession? How do the Rossoneri build something sustainable from it, given the Scudetto for this project has arguably come ahead of schedule, despite losing Gianluigi Donnarumma to Paris Saint-Germain, along with successive injury spells for Ibrahimovic and Simon Kjaer?

    In contrast to last season, Milan have come home strongly, going undefeated since their loss in mid-January to Spezia. Following the African Cup of Nations as well as a debilitative run of injuries and Covid-19, Bennacer has finally been able to put together a consistent run of games since February. With the arguable exception of Marcelo Brozovic, the 24-year-old has re-established himself as the best midfielder in Serie A.

    Along with the ever-improving Sandro Tonali, the diminutive Algerian gives Milan oxygen while taking it away from the opposition, in both attacking and defensive senses. The latter is a critical aspect for under Stefano Pioli, Milan press high up the pitch more than any team in Serie A. Among players over 500 minutes, Bennacer leads the team for combined tackles and interceptions (4.08) per 90.

    Something that's particularly important is how he can compress the pitch and close off the middle for the opposition through where he wins the ball, not simply how much of it he wins. Bennacer has an innate ability to step onto the opposition's initial pass into Milan's defensive half and come out with the ball, allowing the Rossoneri to spring into transition or maintain territorial superiority.

    His spatial awareness also transfers to the offensive side of the game, as an extension of the simple fact he shows for the ball to feet in areas his team-mates in midfield do not.

    It unlocks his technical aptitude and sense of balance on the ball, with the ability to wriggle out of tight spots and get the team up the pitch. As a result, Bennacer (2.18) dwarfs Tonali (1.05) and Kessie (1.34) for successful dribbles per 90, while seeing more of the ball over the course of a game and in more damaging areas, with 83.9 touches per 90 in comparison to Tonali's 65.51 and Kessie's 66.63.

    Meanwhile, Kessie playing a more advanced role in midfield for periods this season has not translated to a correspondent gap in chances created from open play.

    Kessie - who scored against Sassuolo - leads the three with 1.05 per 90 this term, in comparison to Tonali's 0.84 and Bennacer's 0.98. Kessie's forthcoming departure for Barcelona might actually unlock Milan's best tandem in Pioli's 4-2-3-1.

    With Bennacer, Milan can play through their midfield and not have to rely on the attacking force of nature at left-back that is Hernandez. His open play xG p90 of 0.11 and 1.06 chances created from open play p90 is simply eyewatering from left-back - especially in comparison to Alessandro Florenzi and Pierre Kalulu's respective 0.55 and 0.34 in the latter category.

    Ultimately, amid Ibrahimovic running on fumes at 40, the members of Milan's attack have largely singular skill sets and as a sum of their parts, are still largely inflexible.

    Players like Leao, Alexis Saelemaekers, Olivier Giroud and Junior Messias – and even Ante Rebic when available - are all necessary in some capacity on top of what they provide in defensive pressure up the pitch, but with the ball Milan are a much less flexible team in the absence of that Tonali/Bennacer tandem – something last weekend's win over Atalanta arguably only reinforced despite the result.

    The need to maximise midfield balance in relation to attacking personnel is a distinct dynamic across Serie A, particularly in contrast to Juventus' diminishing power and as the arms race for forwards intensifies across the rest of the top five. Yet in a season where the Italian title winner will not break 90 points, none reflect that dynamic more than the Rossoneri.

    The narrative accompanying Milan's Scudetto triumph this season will be one of a European giant being quote unquote "back". 

    Their ability to maintain this level domestically in coming seasons - as well as challenging on the continent, with meek group stage exits in the Champions League like this season only being tolerable for so long among an ambitious fan base - will ultimately depend on how this relatively young team builds around Tonali and Bennacer.

  • Inter 3-0 Sampdoria: Correa-inspired win not enough as Nerazzurri's Scudetto reign comes to an end Inter 3-0 Sampdoria: Correa-inspired win not enough as Nerazzurri's Scudetto reign comes to an end

    Inter's reign as Serie A champions came to an end on Sunday despite rounding off their campaign with a resounding 3-0 victory over Sampdoria at San Siro.

    The Nerazzurri needed to beat Sampdoria on the final day and hope Milan lost against Sassuolo if they were to pip their fierce rivals to top spot.

    Inter completed their half of the bargain thanks to a couple of goals for Joaquin Correa after Ivan Perisic had opened the scoring early in the second half.

    But it did not matter as Milan were three goals up at half-time against Sassuolo and protected that advantage for a 3-0 win, meaning they – and not Inter – were crowned champions of Italy.

    At least three goals had been scored in the previous six league meetings between Inter and Sampdoria, but neither side could find a way through in a relatively low-key first half.

    Lautaro Martinez grazed the outside of the post with a header and was thwarted by Emil Audero from the best of Inter's opportunities.

    The Inter striker was denied again by Audero after the restart, although Simone Inzaghi's side soon found their groove.

    In what could be his final game for the club ahead of his contract expiring next month, Perisic picked out the far corner four minutes into the second half to give his side lift-off.

    Correa swept in a first-time finish to double Inter's lead, and the Argentina international added another on the turn two minutes later to completely kill off the contest.

    Perisic was carried off on a stretcher after sustaining an injury in the build-up to that third goal, which proved to be the last of the meaningful action on the day Inter's spell as top dogs in Italy officially came to an end.

  • Sassuolo 0-3 Milan: Giroud at the double as Rossoneri claim long-awaited Serie A title Sassuolo 0-3 Milan: Giroud at the double as Rossoneri claim long-awaited Serie A title

    Olivier Giroud scored twice as magnificent Milan ended an 11-year wait to win the Serie A title with a 3-0 defeat of Sassuolo.

    Milan only needed a point at the Mapei Stadium on the final day of the season to dethrone city rivals Inter and they made it mission accomplished in style.

    There were no sign of nerves from the rampant Rossoneri as the outstanding Rafael Leao set Giroud up for a double and also laid on the third goal for Franck Kessie in a totally one-sided first half.

    Stefano Piolo's side eased to victory in a party atmosphere in Reggio Emilia on Sunday, finishing two points clear of Inter to finally claim the Scudetto once again.


    Milan swarmed all over Sassuolo from the start, Giroud forcing a save from Andrea Consigli with a bullet header before Fikayo Tomori had an effort cleared off the line.

    The Rossoneri were totally dominant and a huge contingent of away fans erupted in the 17th minute when Leao robbed Kaan Ayhan on the halfway line and burst down the left before picking out Giroud, who put the ball between Consigli's legs.

    Leao was also the architect for the second goal just after the half-hour mark, dispossessing Gian Marco Ferrari and pulling back from the byline for Giroud to sweep home.

    Sassuolo were unable to live with Leao and he surged down the right before laying into the path of the onrushing Kessie, who fired home brilliantly with his left foot nine minutes before half-time.

    Milan were in complete control and there was party atmosphere as their supporters were spared final-day tension following a dream first half.

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic was given a great reception when he replaced Giroud 18 minutes from the end of what might be his last game for Milan and the striker had a goal ruled out for offside against Leao.

    Hamed Traore rattled the post late on and that was as close as Sassuolo came to a consolation as Pioli celebrated with his players and staff on the touchline before the final whistle was blown.

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