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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Phil Did Next 25 Years Ago

As I understand it, today is the 25th anniversary of Phil Mickelson winning as an amateur on the PGA Tour. No doubt you'll hear plenty about it today since Phil was the last amateur to win any PGA Tour event, making it a fairly important piece of golf history.

A very young Phil Mickelson

The event was the 1991 Chrysler Classic of Tucson, an event that was last played in 2006. It's easy to forget that, before Tiger, most people expected Phil to be the next great American golfer. Only a handful of players had won as amateurs before him -- and, of course, none have done so since his win in Arizona 25 years ago.

The LA Times started their summary on the Monday after the event this way:
Phil Mickelson escaped the chill embrace of a snowman in the desert and, with birdies on two of the last three holes, gained a little piece of golf history on Sunday.

In golfers' parlance, a "snowman" is a score of eight on a hole. Mickelson built a snowman by hitting two shots into the Arizona-Sonora desert and one into a bunker on the 14th hole.

That dropped him from a one-stroke lead to three behind and a tie for fifth place in the Northern Telecom Open. It also sent the knowing away muttering about amateurs playing against seasoned professionals.

Then Mickelson, a 20-year-old junior at Arizona State who plays left-handed, got hot again, and the effects of the snowman melted, along with the leads of the professionals.

"I never thought I'd see anyone come back from something like that," said Corey Pavin, who played with Mickelson in the final group on the TPC at Starpass.

Mickelson, who already has matched a Jack Nicklaus record by winning the U.S. Amateur and the NCAA championship in the same year, added this triumph with a closing 71 and a 272 total, 16 under par.
It's a fairly long article that you might like to read if you want to read a firsthand record of history being made. It's a detailed recap of how the final holes played out among Lefty and the pros he beat.

GC expects to have Phil on Morning Drive today and will probably play excerpts from the interview on Golf Central, so I won't belabor it. But Phil's win has proven to be far more special than most golf fans probably expected -- after all, Scott Verplank had won the Western Open as an amateur only six years earlier. And with all the money that entices young players to turn pro early, it's an accomplishment that we may not see again for a while.

Happy Anniversary, Lefty. Now if you can just land that US Open...

The photo came from this page at

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