Is Phil Mickelson hiding in plain sight?
Mickelson has been out of the public eye since February after he made distasteful comments regarding the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit. But while Mickelson has remained in professional hibernation, the six-time major champion has started sporting a new look, his mother told USA Today Sports Thursday.
"I didn’t recognize him at first," Mary Mickelson said. "He had a little bit of a beard and mustache. I don’t ever remember him doing that before. Not too many people recognize him, so it’s been fun to be able to go out with him."
Amid his downtime the past several months, Phil is spending a lot of time with his family and has even attended his nephew's and niece's sporting events with little fanfare thanks in part to his disguise, his mother said.
And though this week Phil could be defending his PGA Championship title in the midst of his 30th year on the PGA Tour, the 51-year-old is apparently doing alright despite being engulfed in controversy.
"I wish you could see him now,'" his mother said. "He’s relaxed, he laughs all the time. He’s not on the phone with people that are calling him for this and that, and please play in this tournament, and it’s hard when you have to say no when you don’t have the time to spend. But he has taken a lot of time with our family.
“Tim and Tina, his brother and sister, have mentioned that, too. How happy he seems. How relaxed and comfortable. And if it means going through all of this ... I’m happy for him."
Many, though, would like to see Lefty come out of exile, including good friend Charles Barkley.
"I talked to Phil and I told him, 'Hey, man, how long are you going to hide out? It’s time for you to come out,'" Barkley, the 1993 NBA MVP, told USA Today Sports. “Phil is my friend and always will be my friend. That does not mean he did not screw up. But the notion that he’s got to stay in his house for the rest of his life is just (expletive)."
But when will Phil come out of hiding? Even Mama Mickelson isn't sure, but whenever — or if — he does, Mary said he'll be a "different person."
"We don’t talk about (golf) very much," she said. "I know when [Phil] comes to visit, we’re always in the backyard putting and chipping and just playing around. I guess he’s getting out there. I really don’t know for sure."