Part of our 18 Day Masters Preview
“Lefty” is the always-smiling family man, walking around with a stack of hundred dollar bills for the attendants at every tournament, and with a quote ready for every camera he walks by. He’s captivating and charming at the right times, and outspoken when he needs to be. He acts like a mentor, as we’ve seen with his Ryder Cup Bromance with Keegan Bradley- excuse me while I throw up in my mouth- and has now even cultivated an “underdog” aura.
You Hi-Toppers might even find yourself rooting for Phil. Bennygloves is a Phan, though I think that’s just because they are both lefties. But I got news for Benny…Phil isn’t even a real lefty! Does everything else righty. Now, that’s not uncommon in sports, but to me it’s just one more thing about Phil that is completely, 100% PHONY.
Phil is a Phraud.
On the Course
Phil’s rep used to be that he was brash, moody and cocky (think Bubba Watson without any Southern charm)…and played itself out on the course. The 13 seasons on Tour before winning a major were littered with terrible cocky decisions. Even after he’d finally won, he couldn’t help himself. In 2006, looking for his 3rd straight major, he made the ill-advised choice to take driver off the 18th tee at Winged Foot. After putting one off a hospitality tent, he was still set up to win with a bogey. But instead of laying up, he tried to smoke a 3 iron through trees…the result was disaster, and a US Open loss (a theme of his).
Even my favorite golf shot of all time, Phil’s shot on 13 at Augusta, was just a terrible decision, to take a 5-iron…from 210…from behind the tree… off pine straw…
GREAT SHOT THOUGH. Makes Bubba’s look like something my 7 year old could do.
Most records of Phil being hated have been scrubbed from the internet, like some sort of government conspiracy, but I was able to turn up a 2006 GQ article, naming the 10 Most Hated Athletes, of which Phil is number 8. You should read his excerpt (it’s short) for the full effect.
In it is described that nobody on tour liked Phil, and among his many nicknames was FIGJAM (Fuck I’m good- Just ask me).
Players and reporters also cite instances of breaking tour etiquette, mostly for selfish motives. Changing equipment right before the Ryder Cup (he went 1-3-0), and blowing off a tournament crucial to locking up a new TV deal- potentially costing players without huge endorsement deals a lot of $$$ being two of the more egregious.
Basically, Phil has always been out for Phil…and that’s it.
The Phamily Man
This one drives me crazy the most. I’m not saying he’s not a good husband or father, but to kinda paraphrase Chris Rock…You’re supposed to be a good father!!!!
My favorite thing in the GQ article is an ALL TIME HARDO MOVE. During the ’99 US Open he wore a beeper around the course, in case his wife went into labor. He announced that if the beeper went off, he was going to walk off the course. You need to be the one with the beeper? And you need to announce it? All for show.
Some of Mickelson’s peers, smelling a PR stunt, badly wanted to call his bluff. “Everybody’s saying, ‘Oh God, I want that beeper to go off,’ “ recalls one writer. (It didn’t.)
I, personally, (this is not the opinion of HTTA or anyone other than Le Cap) think that he also parlayed his wife’s cancer diagnosis in 2009 into a public personality makeover. Now, maybe it’s real- traumatic experiences often lead to a reassessment of priorities, etc…but it’d seem to be well within Phil’s character to take advantage of the situation for a more attractive endorsement package. Whether calculated or not…there is NO DOUBT that perception of Phil has shifted dramatically since then.
Off the Course
Phil likes to gamble. He has admitted this countless times. He even publicly berated a 17 year old for talking about how much they bet on a round. (I’m actually on his side in that one)
He’s also good buddies with one of the biggest sports gamblers in Vegas, a notoriously shady character. Look him up…Billy Walters
Phil has also been the subject of TWO SEC investigations into insider trading…after the latter of which (linked to Walters), in 2016, he wasn’t charged. But Lefty was ordered to pay back 900K in profit and 105K penalty- not, in my mind, something that an innocent person would have to do.
But hey, he didn’t cheat on his wife with a couple of casino hostesses (the crime of the century)…so let’s no one ever bring this up and try to completely ruin his career, ‘k?
Phil was also the high school and college golf teammate of Scott Peterson…a largely irrelevant fact that I always like to cite when I’m bashing Phil.
The Whole Picture
Look, if this guy had just become a little more likable gradually over time, I’d get it. It happens all the time in sports. It this guy has made himself into a fan fave, while according to many accounts it seems like Phil has always been a calculating, conniving endorsement seeking phony, and he just played everyone like Phiddles.
He’s managed to almost literally erase his history as an unlikable brat, and in the process has skated by unscathed… just because he give a good quote and tips well.
Well, Le Cap isn’t letting you skate, Phake Phil. You’re a Phraud!!!