Player Profile: Phil Mickelson

In recent years, Phil Mickelson has come to be regarded as one of the best players in golf. He has won 4 major championships and several times throughout his career was ranked number 2 in the world. Phil is known as one of the few “lefties” in the sport. Indicating the influence he has had on professional golf, Mickelson was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May of 2012.

Youth and High school

Phil Mickelson was born and raised in San Diego, California to a family that loved sports. His mother Mary played on the U.S. Women’s Senior Olympics Basketball team and his father, Phil Sr. was an avid golfer. Both Phil’s brother and sister had careers in golf, his sister playing on the women’s PGA tour and his brother playing on the golf team at Oregon State and later coaching at the University of San Diego. Naturally, Phil started swinging a golf club as soon as he could walk. He played his first round of 18 holes when he was only four years old. When he turned 14, he started working with a professional trainer and as a result dominated junior golf in his area. He won 34 San Diego County titles.

Phil had the opportunity to attend a private high school known for its prestigious sports program. University City High School produced a long line of professional athletes including Mark Prior, Barry Zito, and Luke Walton. Phil also had the chance to play frequently at Torrey Pines, a nearby golf course that frequently hosts the PGA tour.

College

Phil accepted a full ride scholarship to Arizona State in Tempe. In his first year he won several tournaments including the NCAA title.  He was First-Team All-American four years in a row. Phil continued to win a number of tournaments after his freshman year. His biggest win was perhaps the U.S. Amateur Title in 1990. He finished his college career shooting under 17 at the 1992 NCAA Championship, joining Ben Crenshaw as the only other person to win three NCAA titles.

Professional Career

Phil earned his first two PGA victories at the Buick Open and the International in 1993. After an injury he made the first big marks of his career, finishing in the top 10 at both The Masters and U.S. Open, where he was in contention heading into the final rounds. In ’96 he recorded 3 more victories and married his longtime girlfriend, Amy.

Phil faced a huge challenge in Tiger Woods, who emerged as the PGA tour’s biggest superstar. With all the attention focused on Woods, Mickelson was able to constantly improve under the radar.

Despite constant improvement and a number of tournament wins, many were perplexed at the fact that Phil had never won a major. He came close several times, especially at the PGA Championship in 2001, where David Toms beat him by a single shot. Many people criticized him for years as someone who always choked in high-pressure situations.

He broke this reputation in 2004 at The Masters where he sunk a 20-foot put on the last hole to secure his first major victory. With the burden of never winning a major off his back, Phil continued to play great golf. In 2005 he won the PGA Championship and in 2006 won The Masters again. Several years later in 2010, Phil notched his third Masters win, beating Lee Westwood by three strokes. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011 and inducted in 2012. Phil continues to play competitively on the PGA Tour.

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