Philip Alfred Mickelson (born June 16, 1970) is an American professional golfer. He has won four major championships and a total of 38 events on the PGA Tour. He has reached a career high world ranking of 2nd in multiple years. He is nicknamed "Lefty" for his left-handed swing, even though he is otherwise right-handed. According to estimates by Fortune Magazine, Mickelson's income for 2007 was over $51 million, with $47 million coming from endorsements.
Mickelson was born in San Diego, California, to parents Phil Mickelson Sr. and Mary Mickelson. He was raised there and in Scottsdale, Arizona. Although right-handed otherwise, he swings with his left hand, as he learned by watching his right-handed father swing and mirroring it. Mickelson began golf under his father's instruction before starting school. He graduated from the University of San Diego High School in 1988.
Mickelson then attended Arizona State University on a golf scholarship; he graduated in 1992. During his time at Arizona State, he became the face of amateur golf in the United States, capturing three NCAA individual championships and three Haskins Awards (1990, 1991, 1992) as the outstanding collegiate golfer. He was the second collegiate golfer to earn first-team All-American honors all four years. In addition, in 1990, he became the first left-hander to win the U.S. Amateur title. Perhaps his greatest achievement, though, came in 1991 when he won his first PGA Tour event, the Northern Telecom Open. He did so as an amateur, becoming only the sixth player in PGA history to accomplish this feat, and the first since Scott Verplank, who won the 1985 Western Open.
PGA Tour pro
Early professional career
Mickelson turned pro in 1992 following his graduation. He was able to bypass the Tour's qualifying process (Q-School) because of his 1991 Tucson win, which earned him a two-year exemption. He continued to win many PGA Tour tournaments, including the Byron Nelson Golf Classic and the World Series of Golf in 1996, the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 1998, the Colonial National Invitation in 2000 and the Greater Hartford Open in 2001 and again in 2002. He also won the Buick Invitational in 2000, defeating Tiger Woods and ending his streak of consecutive tournament victories at six. After his win, Mickelson said, "I didn't want to be the bad guy. I wasn't trying to end the streak per se. I was just trying to win the golf tournament."
Mickelson has been capable of scoring very low for many seasons. He scored a career-low 59 for 18 holes, at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf at Poipu Bay Golf Course in Hawaii, on November 24, 2004.
Mickelson's game has been characterized by his powerful but often not accurate full swing, but even more so for his excellent short game, most of all his daring "Phil flop" shot in which a big swing with a high-lofted wedge against a tight lie flies a ball high into the air for a short distance. His putting has been usually excellent since turning pro.
Despite these accomplishments, for many years Mickelson was often described as the "best golfer never to win a major". Mickelson often played well in majors: in the five-year span between 1999 and 2003, he had six second-place or third-place finishes. Mickelson holds the record for the most second-place finishes in U.S. Open history with five.
Since early 1993, Mickelson's caddy has been Jim "Bones" Mackay. Mickelson has a lifetime exemption on the PGA Tour, for being a tour member for over 15 years and having 20 plus tour victories. Mickelson has spent over 650 weeks in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Rankings and has been ranked in the final top 10 every year since 1996. Despite his success, Mickelson has never held the World #1 ranking at any time in his career.
2004–06: First three major wins
Mickelson's first major championship win came at the 2004 Masters, where he won with an 18-foot final hole birdie putt, defeating Ernie Els in a Sunday back-nine duel in which the two traded birdies and eagles back and forth. In addition to getting the "majors monkey" off his back, this made him only the third golfer with a left-handed swing to win a major, the others being New Zealander Sir Bob Charles who won the British Open in 1963 and Canadian Mike Weir who won The Masters in 2003. (Like Mickelson, Weir is a right-hander who plays left-handed.)
Just prior to the 2004 Ryder Cup, Mickelson was dropped from his long-standing contract with Titleist/Acushnet Golf, when he took heat for a voicemail message he left for a Callaway Golf executive. In it, he praised their driver and golf ball and thanked them for their help in getting some equipment for his brother. This memo was played to all of their salesmen, and eventually found its way back to Titleist. He was then let out of his multi-year deal with Titleist 16 months early, and signed on with Callaway Golf, his current equipment sponsor. He endured a great deal of ridicule and scrutiny from the press and fellow Ryder Cup members for his equipment change so close to the Ryder Cup matches. He faltered at the 2004 Ryder Cup, going 1-3-0, but refused to blame the sudden change in equipment or his practice methods for his performance.
The following year, in a Monday final round conclusion forced by weather, Mickelson captured his second career major championship with his victory at the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol. On the 18th hole, Mickelson hit one of his trademark soft pitches from deep greenside rough to within a foot and a half of the cup, and then made his birdie to finish at a 4-under-par total of 276, one shot ahead of Steve Elkington and Thomas Bjørn.
Mickelson captured his third major championship the following spring by winning the 2006 Masters. Mickelson won his second Green Jacket after shooting a 3-under-par final round, winning by two strokes over his nearest rival Tim Clark. This win propelled him to 2nd place in the Official World Golf Rankings (his career best), behind Tiger Woods and ahead of Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen.
At the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Mickelson was part of a wild finish, in which he ended up in a tie for second place at +6 (286), one shot behind champion Geoff Ogilvy. On the 71st hole, Mickelson, with the lead at +3, missed the fairway to the left, and his drive finished inside a garbage can, from which he was granted a free drop; he parred the hole, but his bogey on the previous hole reduced his lead to one shot heading to the final hole. Needing a par for a one-shot victory, he chose to hit driver on the final hole of the tournament, and hit it well left of the fairway (he had only hit two of thirteen fairways previously in the round). The ball bounced off a corporate hospitality tent and settled in an area of trampled-down grass that was enclosed with trees. He decided to go for the green with his second shot, rather than play it safe and pitch out into the fairway. His ball then hit a tree, and did not advance more than 50 yards. His next shot plugged into the left greenside bunker. He was unable to get up and down from there, resulting in a double bogey, and costing him a chance of winning the championship outright or getting into a playoff, and also ending his bid to join Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods as the only players to win three consecutive professional majors (he had won two in a row heading into Winged Foot).
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