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10 Facts: Phil Mickelson

By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.

A remarkable bit of history was made yesterday in South Carolina, where Phil Mickelson became the oldest golfer to win a PGA Tour major. The 50-year-old Mickelson captured the PGA Championship by two strokes and surpassed Julius Boros, who won the PGA Championship in 1968 at the age of 48.

“This is just an incredible feeling because I just believed that it was possible but yet everything was saying that it wasn’t,” Mickelson said after his milestone victory. “I hope that others find that inspiration. It might take a little extra work, a little harder effort to maintain physically or maintain the skills, but gosh is it worth it in the end.”

Here are 10 more interesting facts from the life and career of the golfer affectionately known as “Lefty”:

♦ Mickelson was born on June 16, 1970 in San Diego, California. He shares the same birthday as the late rapper a Tupac Shakur, novelist Joyce Carol Oates and star Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson.

♦ His maternal grandfather, Alfred Santos, was a caddie at Pebble Beach Golf Links and helped his young grandchild get introduced to the game. Mickelson also learned the sport through the careful instruction of his father, Philip. (Mickelson is right-handed, but plays golf left-handed since he learned by mirroring the swing of his Dad.)

♦ Mickelson graduated from University of San Diego High School in 1988 (other notable alums include former MLB pitcher Barry Zito, NBA head coach Luke Walton and famed jazz musician Michael Franks). Mickelson attended Arizona State on a golf scholarship. At ASU, he established himself as the top amateur golfer in the United States, winning three individual NCAA championships and receiving the prestigious Haskins Award three times as the nation’s premier collegiate golfer. He was named First-Team All-American for all four years he was at ASU.

♦ In 1991, still a junior in college, Mickelson won his first PGA Tour Event, the Northern Telecom Open in Tucson, Arizona. Said PGA Tour veteran Tom Purtzer, who tied for second in that event: “I just want them to make sure he stays in school for two more years, for the sake of our pocketbooks.” Mickelson remains the last amateur to win a PGA Tour event.

♦ Mickelson turned professional immediately after graduating from ASU in June 1992. His first PGA Tour win as a professional came in February of 1993 at the Buick Invitational, an event he won by four strokes. He would win 20 more Tour events before finally capturing his first major, the 2004 Masters Tournament. He secured that victory with an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole. He won an ESPY Award that year for “Best Championship Performance.”

♦ Mickelson’s victory at the 2000 Buick Invitational ended Tiger Woods’ incredible streak of six straight PGA tournament wins.

♦ After winning the 2013 Open Championship, Mickelson didn’t win another PGA Tour event for almost five years. The drought, brought on my injuries and inconsistent play, finally ended with his victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship in March 2018.

♦ To date, Mickelson has won six major tournaments, including the Masters three times, the PGA Championship twice and The Open Championship once. Only the U.S. Open title has eluded him (he has finished second in that event six times). In all, Mickelson has won 45 PGA Tour events.

♦ interestingly enough, for all his achievements, Mickelson has never been rated as the No. 1 golfer in the world. His highest ranking has been No. 2.

♦ Sunday’s victory put Mickelson’s career earnings to more than $94 million, which is the second highest in PGA Tour history. No. 1 on the list, of course, is Woods, who has pocketed almost $121 million in career earnings.

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