For the first time in almost 26 years, five-time major winner Phil Mickelson has dropped out of the top 50 of the world golf rankings.
The 49-year-old American had spent 1,353 consecutive weeks in the top 50 – the longest consecutive streak since the official world rankings began in 1986 – but dropped to 51st after finishing in a tie for 28th at the WGC-HSBC Champions on Sunday.
Mickelson, who won his 44th PGA Tour title in February, said: “It was a good run, but I’ll be back.”
Current world number one Brooks Koepka was just three years old when Mickelson first broke into the top 50 as a 23-year-old on 28 November 1993, while Sir John Major was prime minister in the UK and Meat Loaf’s I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) was UK number one.
In that time ‘Leftie’ has won 48 tournaments although he never actually made it to the top of the rankings, being kept off top spot for a long time by a certain Tiger Woods.
The fall could have an impact on Mickelson going forward, with the top 50 in the world gaining automatic invites into some of the game’s biggest tournaments.
However, three Masters victories at Augusta National and the 2005 US PGA Championship title have given him lifetime exemptions for those tournaments, while the 2013 Open champion can play the oldest major until he turns 60.
Mickelson is a six-time runner-up at the US Open but if he fails to meet the exemption criteria, which includes automatic entry for the top 60 in the world, he would be reliant on being given a special exemption by the United States Golf Association.
Rory McIlroy now has the longest unbroken run in the top 50 at 573 weeks. According to the statisticians at the 15th Club, he would need to stay there until October 2034 to match Mickelson’s feat.