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Why We Like Phil
March 23, 2009
In honor of his winning score at the CA Championship, 19 reasons to show some love for Phil Mickelson
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March 23, 2009

Why We Like Phil

In honor of his winning score at the CA Championship, 19 reasons to show some love for Phil Mickelson

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WHEW! That was exhausting, watching Phil Mickelson shoot 19 under par last week, winning the CA Championship on the so-called Blue Monster course at Doral Resort & Spa. He beat Nick Watney by a shot, Camilo Villegas by six, Tiger Woods by eight, Rory McIlroy by 10 and, to varying degrees, 74 other touring professionals. The lefthander played red-faced, dehydrated, hungry, exhausted and, for one shot, righthanded. ¶ With the possible exception of several cave-dwelling U.S. congressmen, you won't find a person who doesn't think Mickelson earned every one of the 550 FedEx points he claimed on Sunday and every dime of his $1.4 million winner's haul. RIP, Godfather of Soul: Dr. Phil is now the hardest-working man in showbiz. ¶ In honor of his winning score (to par), herewith are 19 things about Mickelson we're labeling Living Large with Dr. Phil. FYI: Phil already knows about the stiff neck you will develop next month, has identified the cause—your pillows don't have the right down count—and he will be sending you, with his compliments, a pillow custom-made to meet your cranial needs. Expect a delivery by (of course) FedEx and don't worry: Phil has checked off the no-signature-required box and has instructed the driver to leave it by the back patio door, under the tarp. Enjoy!

1. Phil's a people person.
Phil didn't seem right last week. After one round he lay down on the floor in the scorer's room after attesting his card. But he answered every last question from reporters (in theory the fans' surrogate) and honored every last autograph request.

2. Phil doesn't take himself too seriously.
One year Phil was playing poorly at Las Vegas. He was twirling a club and mulling a shot when he asked his caddie, "What do I got?" The caddie, Jim (Bones) Mackay, the only caddie Phil's had as a pro, said, "One-seventy-six." Phil dropped the club he was twirling and it fell on the ball and pushed the ball forward. "One-seventy-five now," Mackay said. And Phil laughed.

3. Phil looks good.
He's a big man, and he's not running from it, wearing, as of this year, tight European-style golf shirts with buttons to hold down the collars, flat-front pants, thick belts and long hair. If he were shooting 75, the look wouldn't work. But he's not.

4. Phil's not afraid to experiment.
You know he tried to play the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines last year without a driver. He didn't win (18th place). In 2000 he essayed the Tour Championship without a four-iron. East Lake, he reasoned, had no four-iron shots. In the final round, on the last hole, a long par-3, he was suddenly desperate for his four-iron. While he considered his options, the wind shifted and was now hurting. Phil jumped on the tee, smashed a three-iron, knocked it on the green and two-putted to win by a shot.

5. Phil looks after his caddie.
After his second victory at Augusta, in '06, Phil made sure Mackay was in attendance at the club's Sunday-night dinner celebrating the new winner.

6. Phil looks after his golf-nut friends.
On the Wednesday before the 2002 British Open at Muirfield, Phil surprised a friend, Bertis Downs of Athens, Ga., by getting in a car and making a two-hour drive to the Old Course at St. Andrews for a casual game.

7. Phil looks after his family.
After winning his first major, the '04 Masters, Phil was invited to the PGA Grand Slam in Hawaii over Thanksgiving. He brought his wife, Amy, and their three kids. Plus his brother and sister. And his parents. Plus Amy's siblings. And her parents. And he paid for everybody.

8. Phil loves kids.
One year at the International, Phil came upon a lemonade stand offering 50-cent cups. Phil left a crumpled $100 bill and spied on the girls as they unfolded their tip and realized he had just dropped a Franklin on them.

9. Phil knows how to tip.
On the Sunday night of his first Masters win, the first-floor locker room attendants at Augusta National stood at the club entrance as Phil left for the night in his green jacket. They gave the new winner giant hugs with tears in their eyes. Next time and forevermore, Phil would be using the upstairs champions' locker room. What was good for Phil was bad for them, as Phil is a world-class tipper.

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