Stat attack!: Looking back on Phil's career

By John AntoniniJune 3, 2014, 6:47 pm

Depending on your math, Phil Mickelson is about to play in his 500th PGA Tour event at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, or he just reached that milestone with his T-49 finish at the Memorial.* Either way, as Mickelson prepares for a run at the U.S. Open and the career grand slam, there’s no better time to look at the career of one of the game’s all-time greats.

*The PGA Tour statistic database credits Mickelson with 499 events entering this week, but it fails to count the 1991 or 1994 British Opens that Phil played because the tournament was not official on the PGA Tour at the time. It also appears that Mickelson - and other members of the 1994 U.S. Presidents Cup team - were given credit for playing in a PGA Tour event that week. I’m inclined to count the British Opens and not count the Presidents Cup, which means Phil would have made his 500th start at Memorial, but for the sake of this exercise we’ll go with the Tour’s counting and call Memphis Mickelson’s 500th official tournament. Of course, when detailing Mickelson’s performance in the majors, we’ll make sure to add all of his British Opens.

Mickelson is ninth on the PGA Tour's all-time victory list with 42 wins. He has won 41 times in the United States and once - the 2013 British Open - in Scotland. He has won in 10 different states, with 13 of those wins coming in California. For all the love Mickelson has gotten from New York galleries, especially in his four runner-up finishes in U.S. Opens held in the Empire State, he has never won in New York, though he has won in nearby New Jersey and Connecticut.

States in which Phil Mickelson has won on the PGA Tour

 State Wins Total starts Tournament wins
 California 13 93

4-AT&T Pebble Beach, 3-Farmers,
2-T of C, 2-Humana, 2-Northern Trust

 Georgia 8 47 3-Masters, 3-BellSouth,
3-Tour Championship
 Arizona 6 39 3-Tucson, 3-Phoenix
 Texas 4 42 2-Colonial, 1-Nelson,
 Florida 3 60 1-Arnold Palmer, 1-Players,
 Colorado 2 14 2-International
 Connecticut 2 5 2-Travelers
 Ohio 1 35 1-World Series
 Massachusetts 1 9 1-Deutsche Bank
 New Jersey 1 6 1-PGA

States where Phil Mickelson has made the most starts without winning

 State Starts Best finish
 Illinois 18 T-8, 2010 BMW Championship
 New York 17 2, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009 U.S. Open
 North Carolina 16 2, 1999 U.S. Open, 2010 Quail Hollow
 Nevada 12 2, 2000 Las Vegas
 Maryland  9 T-3, 2001 Kemper Open
 South Carolina 8 3, 1998, 2002 Heritage
 Michigan 7 T-4, 2000 Buick Open

Mickelson has played 86 major championships, winning five times, with eight runner-up finishes and seven thirds. Six of those second-place finishes have come in the U.S. Open, the only major he has not won.  His 35 top-10 finishes in majors are the second-most since 1990, behind Tiger Woods, who has 38 top 10s.

Phil Mickelson's major record

 Major Starts Wins Top 10s Cuts made Missed cuts Earnings
 Masters 22 3 14 20 2 $6,816,162
 U.S. Open 23 0 10 21 2 4,212,216
 British 20 1 3 16 4 2,992,024
 PGA 21 1 8 20 1 3,011,727
 Total 86 5 35 77 9 11,031,373

Players with the most top-10 finishes in majors since 1990

 Player Top 10s Wins Runner-ups
 Tiger Woods 38 14 6
 Phil Mickelson 35 5 8
 Ernie Els 34 4 6
 Vijay Singh 23 3 1
 Davis Love III 21 1 3
 Jim Fuyrk 20 1 3
 Sergio Garcia 18 0 3

Mickelson has never been No. 1 on the Official World Golf Ranking, although he has been second on 10 different occasions for a total of 270 weeks, most recently for five weeks last summer after he won the British Open. Mickelson first broke into the top 100 on the OWGR on August 22, 1993 and into the top 50 for the first time on Nov. 28, 1993. Since that week he has never been lower than 47th in the world. He made his first top-10 appearance on August 25, 1996. 

The fact he has never been ranked No. 1 in the world bookends nicely with the knowledge that Mickelson has never won the PGA Tour money title. He is the second-leading money winner in PGA Tour history with more than $73 million, but his career-best rank in earnings is second, which he reached five times (1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2007). He was in the top-10 in earnings 14 times, fourth-most all time. He is the leading money winner in the history of the Northern Trust Open, the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Phoenix Open. He is runner-up in earnings at seven other PGA Tour stops, including the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

Events where Phil Mickelson is No. 1 or No. 2 on the all-time money list

 Tournament Money rank Earnings
 Northern Trust 1 $3,570,703
 AT&T Pebble Beach 1 4,670,667
 Phoenix Open 1 3,715,863
 Wells Fargo 2 2,640,213
 Masters 2 6,816,162
 Farmers Insurance Open 2 3,029,516
 Humana Challenge 2 2,066,082
 HSBC Champions  2 1,761,500
 PGA Championship  2 3,011,627
 U.S. Open 2 4,212,216

Most times finishing in the top-10 on the money list

 Player Years in top 10
 Jack Nicklaus 18
 Sam Snead 15
 Tiger Woods 15
 Phil Mickelson 14
 Arnold Palmer  13

Mickelson’s lowest 72-hole aggregate score of 256 at the 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open is tied for the third lowest total in PGA Tour history. It was one of two times he was 28-under par in a Tour event (with the 2006 BellSouth Classic), the sixth best mark in Tour history. He is one of two players who have shot 60 or lower twice on the PGA Tour, having accomplished the feat at TPC Scottsdale in 2005 (second round) and 2013 (first round). (Zach Johnson is the other player to shoot 60 twice.) He has shot 64 or better in a round 49 times.

Mickelson’s low rounds on the PGA Tour

 Score Times shot Most recent
 60 2013 Phoenix
 61 1 2001 Hartford
 62  2 2009 Northern Trust
 63 17 2014 Wells Fargo
 64 27 2012 BMW Championship

Mickelson led the PGA Tour in putting per GIR and birdie average in 2013. It was the second time he led in birdies per round, having also led in 2001. He was the Tour leader in all-around rank in 2001-2002. Here are his season-best stats in the Tour’s basic statistical categories

Phil Mickelson’s season bests

 Statistic Career best Year 2014 average 
 Driving distance 306.0 yards 2003 290.7 yards
 Driving accuracy 71.08 percent 1995 57.92 percent
 Greens in regulation 69.91 percent 2001 67.59 percent
 Strokes gained/putting +.655 2013 -.032
 Birdies per round 4.49 2001 3.83
 Scoring average 69.162 2004 70.787
 Sand saves 62.50 percent 2008 60.00 percent
 All-around total 176 2001 556

One final thought: Mickelson has only played this week's FedEx St. Jude Classic three times in his career, but he was runner-up in Memphis in 2013, when he was two strokes back of winner Harris English. Mickelson was T-59 at TPC Southwind in 2009, and he missed the cut in 2001 in his other start.

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Teenager Im wins season opener

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Tour.

Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Tour event at age 20.

Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

The reward now?

''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

And not the Masters.

He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

Except for that first week in April.

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The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

Yeah, you heard that right.

“I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

“I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

Here's two more just for good measure.

Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.