One of the great side effects of Phil Mickelson winning the 103rd PGA Championship is the fresh round of Phil stories that have emerged.
Everybody seemingly has one, and one is better than next.
Here are three great ones that shed further light into the many layers of Phil the Thrill.
‘That’s what your boss does, too’
Jim “Bones” Mackay, speaking on the No Laying Up podcast, offered a great one of how his 12-year-old son Oliver is responsible for bringing Phil and his current swing instructor Andrew Getson together. Getson was teaching at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, when Bones took his son for a lesson. So impressed with his demeanor and how he simplified the golf swing for his students, Bones signed up for a lesson for himself. When Bones hit a bad shot, Getson explained his mistake by saying, “That’s what your boss does, too.”
Turned out Getson watched plenty of golf on TV and had diagnosed a bad habit that Phil had developed.
A few weeks later on a PGA Tour range, Phil is struggling mightily and he’s complaining about his form. He had a hunch what might be wrong and shared it with Bones.
“That’s what Andrew told me you did wrong, too,” Bones said.
That stopped Phil in his tracks and he wanted to know what Bones’s son’s instructor had to say. Bones tried to change the subject and get him to drop it, but to no avail.
“You’ve got his number? I want to hear it from him,” Phil said to Bones.
Next thing you know, Getson is on a plane to San Diego.
“They’ve been together ever since,” Bones said. “The irony is it all started with my 12-year-old son Oliver.”
Phil Mickelson gives a thumbs up as he walks to the 18th green during the final round of the 2021 PGA Championship held at the Ocean Course of Kiawah Island Golf Resort. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
‘You don’t know who that kid is going to be’
Jeff Coston is a PGA teaching pro out of Washington. He played two seasons on the PGA Tour in 1985 and 1988. As he recounted on ESPN Radio’s Northwest Golf Show with Shon Crewe, his Tour debut at what is now known as the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines included a fresh-faced local as his standard bearer.
“When you meet a 14-year-old kid you don’t know who that kid is going to be,” Coston said.
That 14-year-old kid happened to be Phil Mickelson and when Phil was asked in the 1990s when did he know he wanted to play the PGA Tour, Phil responded that it was the day that he served as standard bearer for the group of Chris Perry, Steve Pate and Coston.
“He probably thought if Coston can do it anybody can do it,” Coston said with a laugh.
Fast-forward 11 or 12 years later and Coston is doing a clinic with Tom Lehman and Phil was there. Coston approached him and introduced himself and to his surprise, Phil said, “I know you, Mr. Coston.”
They hit balls and talked that day for an hour. In 2004, Coston qualified for the PGA Championship and bumped into Phil, who cut him off when he began to remind him of their first encounter.
“You’re never going to have to tell me who you are, Mr. Coston,” Phil said. “I’ll never forget you.”
‘He’s really a student of the game’
At his Charles Schwab Challenge pre-tournament press conference last week, Phil detailed how playing with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler at The Grove XXIII ahead of the PGA and money games back home in San Diego with Charley Hoffman and Xander Schauffele were critical to his success. That included getting taken behind the woodshed by Schauffele in a series of matches at The Farms Golf Club in Rancho Sante Fe, California.
“We started playing a lot over during quarantine. We didn’t really have anything else to do, it was the only way for us to get out of the house,” Schauffele said. “I was playing really good golf. To be completely honest, Phil was playing probably some of the worst golf he’s played. Obviously the course being narrow and sort of strategic didn’t really fit his eye. So I took full advantage of him not playing well and me playing really well during that time stretch.”
Schauffele already had dipped into Phil’s pocket twice – how much? “That’s not for me to say. They’re much larger than most games, I can tell you that,” Schauffele said – when he came back for more and was in danger of losing yet again. So, Phil being Phil he pressed early. Here Schauffele picks up the thread of the story of how he closed out Phil with an ace.
“The walk back to the 16th tee is like 80 yards or 100 yards or so and we were jawing each other on the 15th green. I won the hole, he pressed, and then he quickly went back to the tee to tee off and it’s one of the harder par-3s on the course. And he kind of wasn’t supposed to hit first (not his honor having lost the previous hole) and of course he hits first and hits it to four feet or so. I’m letting him know that I could make him re-hit, since it’s match play, but since he was getting his butt kicked, I figured I would let him hit it to four feet and not make him re-hit,” Schauffele said. “I kind of pulled a 6-iron toward the water a little bit, fell right in line with the pin and then trickled in. And Phil just sat – there’s a little mound behind the tee box – and he just sat there like this, looking down at the ground, shaking his head, he just didn’t really know what to do with himself. So, I found that pretty entertaining.
“But I think the big takeaway was, he’s always joking around, but to watch a five-time major champ ask me all these questions I was sort of taken back. And so what I learned from playing with him was that he’s really a student of the game and he’s never really stopped learning. And he’s probably – I thought I was near the top in terms of being the most obsessed of golf and not being able to get away from the game, but I got to tip my hat and give it to Phil. I think he’s probably, he’s so obsessive and so passionate about golf that it’s not really a surprise that he did win the PGA Championship because he’s been telling himself for the last 25 years that he’s still got it. So really cool to play with him and you can definitely learn a lot from what he’s done.”