Stat attack!: Looking back on Phil's career


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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