Born Philip Alfred Mickelson, June 16, 1970, in San Diego, CA; son of Phil (a pilot) and Mary Mickelson; married Amy; children: Amanda Brynn, Sophia, Evan. Education: Graduated from Arizona State University, bachelor's degree (psychology).
Home —California. Website —http://www.phil–mickelson.com.
Professional golfer. Wins include: Northern Telecom Open, 1991; Buick Invitational, 1993; Sprint International, 1993; Mercedes Championship, 1994; Northern Telecom, 1995; Nortel Open, 1996; Phoenix Open, 1996; GTE Byron Nelson, 1996; NEC World Series, 1996; Bay Hill Invitational, 1997; Sprint International, 1997; Mercedes Championship, 1998; AT&T Pebble Beach, 1998; Buick Invitational, 2000; Bellsouth Classic, 2000; Mastercard Colonial, 2000; Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, 2002; Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, 2004; Masters, 2004; Exelon Invitational, 2004.
Golf Digest Byron Nelson Award recipient (most wins on PGA TOUR), 1996; ESPY award for best championship performance, 2004; ESPY award for best male golfer, 2004.
Phil Mickelson, once crowned the golden boy of golf by many sportswriters, hall of fame golfers, and fans, was known for many years as "the best
Phil Mickelson was born on June 16, 1970, in San Diego, California. And, as his website noted, he was "born to be a golfer." With a homemade golf club in his hand at only one–and–a–half, Mickelson, a natural right–hander, became a left–handed golfer when he stood in front of his father and mirrored his swing. In love with the game so much, Mickelson, at three, wanted to golf with his father one weekend that when he was told that he could not, he tried to run away. Finally, when he was almost four, he played his first 18 holes. He cried at the eighteenth green because he did not want to stop playing. "Phil would hit the ball and run to hit it again, never tiring," his website further noted.
In 1975, Mickelson entered and won the Harry McCarthy Putting Contest at the age of five, beating competitors who were as old as 13. His practice time turned into a game when he would "redesign the course to make things more interesting," his website stated. For example, he would stand on the seventh tee and hit to the fourth hole green. By the 1980s, he had not only won four junior events, he had also brought golf into his schoolwork. For his sixth grade science project, Mickelson tested golf balls to see which had the best compression for junior golfers. By age 14, he was studying with Dean Reinmuth, a popular teacher at the Golf Digest School. Reinmuth was so impressed with Mickelson that he became his coach.
Throughout his high school years, Mickelson continued his winning ways. Not only did he qualify for the San Diego and Los Angeles Opens as a junior, he also won 16 San Diego junior events and 12 American Junior Golf Association events. Yet, golf was not Mickelson's only interest. Encouraged by his mother, he took a music appreciation class. However, he incorporated golf into his studies by "comparing [composers'] music tempo to the tempo of the golf swing for different clubs," noted his website. "He associated every classic artist with a golf club."
In 1988, Mickelson entered Arizona State University to study psychology. However, as his college golf wins increased, including three NCAA Championships, many sportswriters, fans, and golf pros began to wonder why Mickelson had not left college to become a professional golfer. "School is a commitment I made," Mickelson told Sports Illustrated, "and I don't feel that the degree is as important as fulfilling my commitment." Mickelson also felt that the tournaments he played in college helped him progress and mature as a player. "I kind of set a four–year plan. I felt that in four years [while in college] I could advance my game and be strong enough to compete on the PGA [Professional Golf Association] Tour," he told Sports Illustrated . Mickelson, as an amateur, did play in PGA events, and won five of them. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in psychology, Mickelson turned pro.
In 1995, Mickelson entered the world of professional golf with great fanfare. One reporter for the London Financial Times Weekend enthusiastically announced, "Not since Jack Nicklaus has a young amateur excited the world of golf like Mickelson." At the 1992 U.S. Open, Mickelson's first PGA event as a professional was unsuccessful. He did not qualify for the tournament. However, he did anchor the team for the Ryder Cup competition and won all three of his matches.
Throughout the 1990s, Mickelson won many PGA tour events and became the second youngest player after Jack Nicklaus to win eleven of those events. However, it was his demeanor and his inability to win a Major—the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA—which became the focus of critics and fans alike. Mickelson had always loved the game of golf, had studied its history and heritage, and had always impressed the U.S. Golf Association with both. Yet, many others felt that he had manufactured this image. Mickelson acknowledged to Sports Illustrated that "A golfer is an entertainer, much like an actor. People pay money to go out and watch you play, and I don't think they pay just to watch you hit a drive down the middle, hit a shot on the green, and two–putt."
By 1999, still unsuccessful at the Majors, Mickelson entered the U.S. Open and played to a tie for first place with Payne Stewart. However, a more important event was about to take place—the birth of his child, and Mickelson was ready to step off the course to see it—even if he had to step off during a possible playoff hole with Payne Stewart. "There's going to be a U.S. Open every year. The birth of my child was an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life," he told People . Mickelson completed the tournament and watched Stewart break the tie with a 15–foot putt on the final hole. Nine hours later, he watched his baby daughter's birth.
By early 2002, Mickelson had still not won a major while still weathering his critics, who focused more on his style of play. "His pedal–to–the–metal mentality and slipshod course management skills," noted Golf World, had cost Mickelson many tournament wins. However, there was also another player preventing Mickelson from winning—Tiger Woods. And, unlike Woods, a methodical, quiet player, Mickelson would "rather crash and burn than play it safe," noted Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service. Mickelson further commented that "I need to go out and play an attacking style and try to make some noise."
Yet, no matter how much Mickelson attacks the course, he will always be considered a nice guy. The nice guy, who Sports Illustrated noted, "signs autographs 10 minutes past forever [who has] the manners of Jeeves and the charm of Bond." Despite being criticized for his risky play, Mickelson has not changed his demeanor or his game, "If I try to just hit fairways with irons, hit the middle of greens, it's not fun."
The year 2003 was not a good one for Mickelson. In March of that year, his wife, Amy, had nearly died in childbirth and their son, Evan, had gone seven minutes without a breath. "Phil was so shaken by the trauma that he sleepwalked through the 2003 season, his worst in 12 years on the PGA Tour," wrote Sports Illustrated 's Alan Shipnuck. He failed to win a tournament all year. At the year's end, Mickelson took a hard look at his body and his swing. He began watching what he ate and working out six times a week, which resulted in 15 pounds dropping off of him. He also reshaped his swing.
Mickelson's hard work paid off on January 25, 2004, when he won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. This was his fourth time as a professional that he began the season with a win. He had announced at the beginning of the tournament that he would donate $100 per birdie and $500 per eagle in 2004 to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The charity funds college educations for children of military special operations personnel killed in operational or training missions. In this tournament, Mickelson had 37 birdies and no eagles, which totaled $3,700 for the foundation.
Mickelson finally won a major golf championship on April 11, 2004, with his victory at the U.S. Masters tournament. He "completed the back nine in five–under 31, the lowest by a winner at Augusta National since Jack Nicklaus scorched round in 30 in 1986," according to the Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. It was his first major championship in more than 40 tries. According to Sports Illustrated 's Shipnuck, after his win Mickelson said, "It was an amazing, amazing day, the fulfillment of all my dreams."
Mickelson continued his winning ways. On June 7, 2004, Mickelson won the Exelon Invitational in Avondale, Pennsylvania. The event was hosted by fellow golfer Jim Furyk, who was sidelined after arthroscopic wrist surgery.
In 2004, Mickelson had finally proven to himself, his fans, and sports writers that he had the talent and determination to win a major tournament. Shipnuck declared that the "Masters should be not the culmination of a career but the beginning of a wondrous second act."
Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, April 13, 2004.
Golf World, March 23, 2001.
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, April 13, 2002.
London Financial Times Weekend, June 20, 1992.
Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), January 25, 2004.
People, July 12, 1999.
Philadelphia Enquirer, June 8, 2004.
Sports Illustrated, May 6, 1991; August 27, 2001; April 15, 2002; August 19, 2002, pp. 62–73; April 19, 2004, p. 52, p. 92.
"Mickelson prevails in sudden–death chip–off," http://SI.com , http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2004/golf/06/07/bc.glf.exelon.ap/index.html (July 3, 2004).
"Phil Good Story," http://www.SI.com , http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2004/golf/specials/masters/2004/04/11/vansickle.mickelson/index.html (July 3, 2004).
"Phil's Facts," Phil Mickelson Online, http://www.phil–mickelson.com/x12.xml (July 3, 2004).
"The Thrill of Victory," http://www.SI.com , http://si.cnn.com/2004/golf/01/25/bc.glf.hopeclassic.ap/index.html (July 3, 2004).