The weird and wonderful world of Phil the Thrill

The Scoop

The pranks, the dancing, the big wins, the agonising losses – Quick 9 looks back at the magnificent career and longevity of the game’s greatest left-hander

This week Phil Mickelson completed the remarkable achievement of staying inside the world’s top 50 for 25 years. Join us to celebrate the 48-year-old’s efforts and, we promise, there’s not one mention of The Match…

1. “I would sleep with those clubs at night”

Otherwise right-handed he plays left-handed after mirroring his dad’s swing.

He was promised some clubs when he won his first trophy and his first set were some ladies’ left-handed clubs that he spotted at Feathers Creek in Death Valley.

Soon after his dad built a 40‑yard hole in their San Diego back garden.

“I would watch my dad hit balls in the backyard dreaming of being able to stand up so I could hit my first shots. And he gave me a cut‑down club when I finally could walk, and I would hit balls in our backyard over and over for hours on end. I would sleep with those clubs at night, and I would dream about the game of golf.”

2. The amateur sensation

Mickelson remains the last amateur to win on the PGA Tour having captured the 1991 Tucson Open when a 20-year-old student at Arizona State.

He made a triple bogey on the 14th on the Sunday before adding birdies at 16 and 18.

“One of my memorable shots ever was when I hit a 9‑iron to 10 feet on the last hole and made the putt. I was still in college, and to pull that shot off at that time under that situation, was to me one of the greatest shots that I’ve ever hit and one I’ll remember as being that.

“The club is in my garage. I still have it. I’ve saved all my clubs throughout the years.”

Three months later he finished as low amateur at The Masters having won the US Amateur the previous year, the first left-hander to do so.

Phil Mickelson

3. The trusted sidekick

Steve Loy was on the bag for the Tucson win, since then he has also been his coach, business partner and, for the vast majority of Mickelson’s career, his manager. And he was the man who found Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay who was Mickelson’s caddie for a staggering 25 years.

“In the mid 90s we were playing a tournament in Las Vegas and there was an earthquake at two in the morning. The chandelier was swaying from side to side hitting the ceiling. His room-mate told me the next day that Bones leaped out of bed, grabbed the clubs and ran outside. He didn’t want anything to fall on them and hurt them,” Mickelson said.

“When Amy got diagnosed (with cancer) he and his wife Jen drove overnight to be with us the next day in San Diego. When Amy went through surgery, they were there through it all.”

Quick 9 continues on the next page, where Mickelson explains his “sick humour”…

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