Phil Mickelson has been a staple of the world top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking for 26 years, first reaching through to that upper echelon of golf after a runner-up finish in the Casio World Open on Nov. 28, 1993.
However, Father Time is undefeated, and it’s finally gaining on the five-time major winner. With this week’s ranking, Mickelson is out of the world top 50 for the first time in more than a quarter-century. Mickelson checks in this week at No. 51, sitting below Shugo Imahira, who finished runner-up at the Mynavi ABC Championship on the Japan Golf Tour to hop from 53rd to 50th.
In total, Mickelson was in the top 50 for 1.353 weeks in a row. Jon Rahm, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Sungjae Im are all currently in the top 50 in the world and haven’t been alive as long as Mickelson was consecutively in the top 50. Mickelson did this despite several changes to the Official World Golf Ranking formula over the years, including changes which have, at times, made it more difficult for PGA Tour players to earn higher points relative to their field strength against other tours.
It’s been a quick slide for Mickelson in 2019. Despite moving to 17th in the OWGR after his February win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Mickelson has played poorly since. He hasn’t finished in the top 25 of any start since the Masters.
Perhaps most interestingly, Mickelson has never been No. 1 in the world. He had the mathematical opportunity to become No. 1 at least a dozen times in his career, but he was never able to claim the top spot. In recent months, Mickelson said his physical condition — which precipitated a substantial weight loss this summer — and mental approach have betrayed him.
“I just haven’t played well. Just had a lot of stuff going on, and I just haven’t been really focused and into the mental side,” Mickelson said at the WGC-HSBC Champions. “I haven’t seen good, clear pictures. I haven’t been as committed and as connected to the target. I just haven’t been mentally as sharp the last six, eight months.”
The next-longest streak inside the OWGR top 50 belongs to Ernie Els, who was in the top 50 for 965 weeks. The best current top-50 streak belongs to Rory McIlroy, who has been there for 598 weeks. McIlroy wound have to be in the top 50 until sometime in 2034 to match Mickelson’s streak.