Starting this because I think there’s a lesson for us in every shot Phil made on the last hole of the PGA, especially in light of his history and current metrics.
Tee shot: You’ve gotta know that Winged Foot and the tee shot when he was leading the US Open was at least in his subconscious. Unlike conventional wisdom at the time of that tournament, however, which probably would have advised 3-wood off the tee to put the ball center of the fairway but 30 yards back, the shots gained metric now tells you that you shouldn’t give up that yardage. Phil doesn’t but doesn’t play the hero shot down towards the ocean, which Koepka needed to, but instead makes his mistake inland.
Approach: Phil gets a bit of a bad break when the ball runs further left than he might have hoped, but a good break in that the ball only runs into an area the spectators have trampled down. BTW, keep in mind that according to the CBS stats aired at the time, Phil at 50 has hit his tee shot 7 yards shorter than Koepka at 32. Phil’s approach, with a 9-iron, hardly what he needed for the length of his shot when Koepka, just shorter, played a full PW, allows him to make a more controlled swing which he aims for the center of the green. The Phil who’s 30s aims straight for the tougher pin position as Koepka must whose good but not great shot is on line but farther from the pin.
First putt: If there’s a greater difference between the old Phil and the new, this putt is it. Knowing he can three-putt to win, the old Phil tries to finish with a flourish by slamming the ball in the hole. This Phil knows a putt that’s on line but safely struck, might go in–or finish just to the right of the hole. As it does for a tap-in major win.
I know that some put Phil’s win behind Jack’s and Tiger’s late career wins at the Masters. As much as I love those two golfers above Phil, Phil won on a tougher course paired in the final round with a tougher golfer because he made great decisions every step of the way. We can learn from his thought process.