The Phil Effect

PGA Championship 2021: Reports say major atmosphere is back, specifically this shirtless guy with a Metallica back tattoo chanting “Let’s go Phil!” at the top of his lungs

What a weekend it's been at Kiawah. Phil Mickelson is the final group at age 50, swaggering around the Ocean Course in all black like some sort of golf Johnny Cash. Beside him on Sunday will be Mr. PGA Championship himself, Brooks Koepka, battling through a knee injury, rebuilding the only ego can possibly compete with Phil’s with every 300-plus-yard bomb. Most important, however, has been the raucous revival of the major gallery, which, ballooning to sizes we have yet to see in the late-pandemic era, has responded to the drama by whooping, hollering, and generally carrying on in the potato-mashing, booey-baba-ing manner we have come to expect over the years.

Despite the prevailing vibe, no single patron has summed up the gallery's return to form quite as elegantly as this man—shirtless, devil horns a loft, chanting “LET’S GO PHIL!” in between slugs of domestic brew on Saturday. It’s good to have you back, America.

It’s perhaps not surprising that a man proudly roasting his Metallica back tattoo in the South Carolina sun would treat the PGA Championship like Ozzfest, but it’s also refreshing. A. It demonstrates that golf can still be a game of the people, which is something that everyone talks about wanting until actual people enter the mix B. It’s proof that major golf, as we know it and love it, is finally back.

A huge part of this is the Phil effect, of course. If Kevin Streelman is atop the leaderboard come sunset, you’ll hear the chirp of every last cricket on Kiawah Island. But assuming things continue as they have the last few days, things should be alive and amplified down the stretch. Hit the lights.