Phil Mickelson is one of America’s most successful professional golfers. He has won every major tournament except the ‘US Open,’ where he has been the runner-up for a record six times. He is characterized by a powerful, but inaccurate drive with an excellent short game that more than makes up for his shortcomings. He has a unique left-handed swing, though he is right-handed. He won a ‘PGA Tour’ event as an amateur, at the tender age of 20. Although he is ranked at number two on the ‘PGA Tour’ list, his earnings from endorsements are far more than his earnings from the game. He has endorsed brands such as ‘Rolex,’ ‘Callaway Golf,’ and ‘Ford’ among others. In 2007, his annual earnings were estimated to be $ 42 million, making him one of the highest-paid golfers in the world. He was included in the ‘National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame’ and was the recipient of the ‘ESPY’ award for the best male golfer of 2004. He has represented the country in 11 ‘Ryder Cup’ matches and 12 ‘Presidents Cups,’ which he considers to be a huge honor. He is married to Amy McBride and has three children. Despite his busy golf schedule, Mickelson has always been a family man and contributed a large portion of his earnings to charity.
Childhood & Early Life
Phil Alfred Mickelson, nicknamed Lefty, was born on June 16, 1970, in San Diego, California, US, to Philip and Mary Mickelson. His father was a Navy fighter-jet pilot who later flew commercial airlines. He was raised in San Diego and Scottsdale, Arizona.
As a young boy, he learnt golf from his father, who took him out to play twice or thrice a week. Though he was a right-handed child, he played the sport left-handed, mirroring his father in their backyard. His parents encouraged him to pick up golf by using his father’s airline job to help him compete in various tournaments, and his mother pitched in with the expenses by taking up a job.
He completed his high school from the ‘University of San Diego High School’ in 1988 and went on to study psychology at the ‘Arizona State University’ in Tempe, on a golf scholarship. He started playing amateur golf as a teen and won three ‘NCAA’ championships and three ‘Haskins Awards’ to become the face of amateur golf in the US by 1992. He matched Ben Crenshaw’s record in individual ‘NCAA’ championships and won 16 tournaments during his college days.
He was the first left-handed golfer to have won the ‘US Amateur’ title and the second collegiate golfer to have won the ‘All American Amateur’ title for four years in a row.
His biggest achievement as an amateur was his first ‘PGA Tour’-event win in 1991, at the age of 20. His college coach, Steve Loy, was his caddy that day and later became his business manager and guide. To date, he is the fourth and last amateur to have won a ‘PGA Tour.’ He played a few other professional tour events as an amateur but failed to repeat his performance. He graduated from the ‘Arizona State University’ in 1992 and took up professional golf.
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Mickelson was exempted from the qualification process for professional golf due to his ‘PGA Tour’ win in 1991, which was valid for two years. He hired Jim “Bones” Mackay as his caddy in 1992 and played a number of ‘PGA’ tours in the coming years. He won many of such events, including the ‘World Series of Golf’ (1996), the ‘Colonial National Invitation’ (2000), and the ‘Greater Hartford Open’ (2001 and 2002).
In 2000, he ended Tiger Wood’s winning streak of six consecutive triumphs on the ‘PGA’ tour, by clinching the ‘Buick Invitational.’ However, he had never won a major yet and was labeled as the “best player never to win a major,” in golf circles during that period.
He finally managed to get over the jinx of majors in 2004, when he won the 68th ‘Masters Tournament’ at the ‘Augusta National Golf Club’ in Georgia at the age of 33. He became the third left-handed golfer to win a ‘Masters Tournament’ in the history of golf.
His ‘Masters’ win was followed by an all-time career low till he picked up his second major title at the ‘PGA Championship’ at Baltusrol, in 2005. He ranked second on the ‘Official World Golf Ranking’ list in 2007, after winning the ‘Masters’ in 2006, his third major title. This was the highest ranking of his career.
He was in the run to join Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan to be the only players to win three majors in a row, but his performance dropped at the ‘US Open’ at Winged Foot, in 2006, where he finished in a tie for the second place, one stroke behind Geoff Ogilvy.
In 2007, he won the ‘Deutsche Bank Championship,’ finishing two strokes ahead of Tiger Woods. The following year, he won the ‘Crowne Plaza Invitational’ at Colonia, ahead of Tim Clark and Rod Pampling.
He won his first ‘World Golf Championship’ at the ‘WGC–CA Championship’ in 2009, one stroke ahead of Nick Watney. Earlier that year, he had won the ‘Northern Trust Open’ at Rivera, putting him at number two on the ‘PGA Tour’ wins list, with 35 wins.
Despite multiple breaks in his golfing career due to the cancer treatment of his wife and mother, he maintained his ranking at one place behind Tiger Woods, by winning the ‘Tour Championship’ and the ‘WGC–HSBC Championship’ in 2009.
The following year, he was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. However, he continued with his golfing career and recorded a win at the ‘Shell Houston Open,’ placing him at the number three spot on the world ranking list, while Tiger Woods had fallen to number seven.
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Later, despite two hernia operations in 2016, he bounced back to win the ‘CareerBuilder Challenge’ and was named as the captain’s pick for the 2017 ‘Presidents Cup.’
Awards & Achievements
Besides scoring eight amateur wins, Phil Mickelson has won five ‘Major’ championships, one ‘Players’ championship, one ‘World Golf’ championship, three ‘Tour Champ’/‘FedEx Cup’ events, and 32 other ‘PGA’ titles.
He also has nine ‘European Tour’ wins that include five ‘Major’ championships, two ‘World Golf’ championships and two other ‘European Tour’ titles.
He was the recipient of the 1996 ‘Golf Digest Byron Nelson Award’ and two 2004 ‘ESPY’ awards for the best male golfer and the best championship performance.
He was included in the ‘National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame’ in 2008.
He is married to Amy McBride. Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, which made Phil suspend his ‘PGA Tour’ schedule indefinitely. They have three children, Amanda, Sophia, and Evan. He returned to play after a month when the doctors assured him that the cancer was detected at an early stage and could be treated. However, he took leave from golf again for his mother’s treatment for breast cancer at the same hospital.
He has always placed his family first when it came to odds with professional golf. He has always remained close to his parents and shared his success with them.
He was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2010, for which he had to undergo medical treatment. He also became a vegetarian to help him battle the disease. He also went through two hernia surgeries in 2016, but continued with his golf career.
Mickelson is known to be compassionate. On hearing the story of a retired golfer and his struggle to make ends meet, he volunteered to sponsor the education of one of his daughters. He has contributed a large part of his earnings for welfare projects for the armed forces and for children.
He became conscious of his weight when he had to play with younger players and started training under Sean Cochran in an effort to lose twenty pounds, determined to remain fit enough for competitive golf.
He was investigated for insider trading in ‘Clorox’ stocks and ‘Dean Foods.’ However, no wrongdoing could be proved against him.
Mickelson gave up his long-standing contract with ‘Titleist’ golf equipment and changed over to ‘Callaway’ in 2004, just prior to the ‘Ryder Cup.’
Frustrated with his tee shots, he changed his coach. He left Rick Smith and hired Butch Harmon, who was the former coach of Tiger Woods. Later, he left Butch Harmon too and hired Andrew Getson as his coach in 2016.
He once gave a spectator $ 200 because his tee shot had broken his watch.
He is one of the only three golfers to have won the ‘NCAA Championship’ and the ‘US Amateur Championship’ in the same year. The other two are Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
He has always considered representing his country at an international tournament to be the greatest honor. He has represented the US in 11 ‘Ryder Cup’ matches and 12 ‘Presidents Cups.’