The PGA of America apologized after fans surrounded Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka on the final hole of the PGA American Championship at Kiawah Island.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, spectators overwhelmed the American duo on their way to the 18th green and winner Mickelson, 50, said it was “unnerving”.
Koepka recently had knee surgery and said he “had his knee done several times in this crowd.”
PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh has apologized to both players.
Mickelson’s victory meant he became the oldest man to win a major title, with Koepka finishing in common second place.
The US PGA Championship Covid-19 protocols for fans included “no handshakes, punches, autographs, photographs or selfies”; for those present to “respect their [players’] space and watch your distance, ”and“ avoid unnecessary touchpoints and large crowds. ”Fans who had not been vaccinated were advised to wear masks when they could not be socially distant.
But Mickelson needed a security and police escort to make his way through the crowded crowd of spectators in order to end his historic moment.
“While we applaud the enthusiastic engagement of the fans, we regret that a moment of great exhilaration and pent-up emotion from spectators … briefly overwhelmed security and left two players and their caddies vulnerable,” said Waugh.
“We have always put player safety at the top of our list and are grateful that order has been restored.”
Meanwhile, Mickelson said he was inspired by Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady, 43, won a seventh Super Bowl when he led the Bucs to victory in February and played with Mickelson in a charity golf game against Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning in Florida last year to collect funds for COVID-19 relief efforts.
“It is [Brady] actually a great motivation, because of how hard he works to be the best and to lengthen his career, ”said Mickelson, six-time major winner.
“There’s no reason at an older age you can’t be your best.
“It just takes a little more work. I wasn’t getting the results – but I believed in it, and people believed in me.”