HE WAS BOUND FOR GREATNESS
On June 16, 1970, Phil and Mary Mickelson of San Carlos were introducing their baby boy to the world with a golf theme. On the cover, a cartoon baby carried a golf bag toward a green. inside, it read, “Philip Alfred hurried to join the Mickelson ‘3’ some on the first tee at Mercy Hospital for a 3:45 p.m. starting time.”
Phil Mickelson is living proof that a child can be born to golf greatness, and Monday afternoon in St. Augustine, Fla., his arrival will be heralded again — this time as a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Elected by a 72 percent vote in his first time on the ballot in November, the 41-year-old Mickelson joins three other native San Diegans in the Hall — Mickey Wright, Billy Casper and Gene Littler. he is ninth all-time on the PGA Tour wins list with 40 victories, and the Rancho Santa Fe resident has captured four major titles, including three Masters.
Mickelson is a devoted family man, the father of three, a generous philanthropist, a valued pitchman, and a rabid sports fan. But most of all, he is one of the world’s most exciting golfers, a mercurial artist who trades predictability for a showman’s flair.
“His passion for the game is what I really admire about him,” said Mickelson’s longtime friend and childhood rival, Harry Rudolph. “That’s really carried over from when he was a kid. he was living the dream then, and he’s still living it now.”
What follows are snapshots from friends, competitors and family who watched a focused, hardworking kid from San Diego rise from being a Mission Trails range rat to an occupant in the Hall, next to the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Bobby Jones.
Mary Mickelson (mother)
Philip had never played much outside of San Diego. when he was 14 we went up to a tournament in Lake Tahoe in our camper. And he won. then we went to the next tournament at Mission Hills in Palm Springs. And he won. We looked at each other and said, “Maybe he’s better than we think he is.”
Harry Rudolph (friend and childhood rival)
Phil and I had been battling each other in San Diego Junior Golf since we were 6 years old. At around 11 or 12 we had a tournament at Sail Ho. I’d heard Phil broke his arm playing football or something. We were paired together, but I didn’t think he’d show up.
Sure enough, here he is on the first tee. His arm was in a cast … he tried to play one-handed. I don’t remember if he made it around nine holes, but that’s the desire he had. That was his competitiveness at a young age.