When Phil Mickelson talks, people listen, and depending on Lefty’s mood, he’ll speak on just about anything. Here are the famous moments in Mickelson’s career where his mouth led the way.
2 of 13Alastair Grant/ Associated Press
The most recent moment came at the 2014 Ryder Cup, where Mickelson was openly critical of captain Tom Watson’s management within the captain’s role. Mickelson indirectly criticized Watson by noting everything that was different from the 2014 captain compared to the last victorious American captain, Paul Azinger.
3 of 13Matt Dunham/ Associated Press
Mickelson was a member of that memorable 2008 Ryder Cup squad that upset the favored Europeans. To Phil, a few things about 2014 didn’t match up with what worked in 2008.
“There were two things that allow us to play our best I think that Paul Azinger did, and one was he got everybody invested in the process. He got everybody invested in who they were going to play with, who the picks were going to be, who was going to be in their pod.”’
"And the other thing that Paul did really well was he had a great game plan for us, you know, how we were going to go about doing this."
4 of 13Stuart Franklin/ Getty Images
But that wasn't the full Ryder Cup for Mickelson. Phil got things underway earlier in the weekend taking a jab at Team Europe players Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. Lefty was asked about the cohesiveness of the American squad when compared to the Europeans, replying, "Well, not only are we able to play together, we also don't litigate against each other and that's a real plus, I feel, heading into this week,” referring to McIlroy's suing McDowell's management company, Horizon Sports.
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Noted course designer Rees Jones is not above the Mickelson rant, that's for sure. Lefty has been vocal in his complaints about Jones' various setups across the nation, many times leading with a compliment before dropping in a bit of a dagger on Jones' redesigns. Regarding his redesign of Atlanta Athletic Club, Mickelson said, "Modern architecture, there are some great ones, but the guy that redid this one—you know, it’s great for the championship, but it’s not great for the membership.”
Phil pulled a similar tactic when referencing Congressional Country Club, the site of the 2011 U.S. Open, another Jones redesign. Mickelson said the 18th hole was "the epitome of a great golf hole,” but the 10th was “the complete opposite." Rest assured, Phil isn't a fan of Jones' course curriculum.
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And Jones was not the only man to receive the Mickelson complaint regarding course setup. During the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, Mickelson reportedly complained adamantly to USGA Executive Director Mike Davis about the lengthy par-3 third hole. “That’s terrible, 274 yards,” Mickelson said. “We can’t even reach it.”
Maybe it was a warranted complaint for Mickelson, though, who played the hole 3-over par through the event, including a double bogey during his Sunday round, where he surrendered the lead.
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Born in San Diego, Mickelson is known as a California man, but that wasn't always a certainty. In January 2013, Mickelson discussed possible plans of leaving the state because of high tax rates.
"I’m not sure what exactly, you know, I’m going to do yet. I’ll probably talk about it more in depth next week. I’m not going to jump the gun, but there are going to be some. There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and, you know, it doesn’t work for me right now. So I’m going to have to make some changes."
He would regret it later, releasing a statement of apology. "Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public," Mickelson said. "I apologize to those I have upset or insulted, and assure you I intend to not let it happen again."
8 of 13Scott Heppell/ Associated Press
Mickelson began his 2013 British Open with a 2-under 69, good for ninth place. He wasn't happy with the course setup, though, blaming the R&A for being too egotistical. "We've got (to) let go of our ego sometimes and just set the course up the way the best players can win," Mickelson said. He would follow that up by dropping out of the top 10 the next day.
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But ironically, the course at Muirfield was not too difficult for Phil. At 43, Lefty came back on Sunday and won the British Open for the first and only time in his career, leaving him just needing the U.S. Open championship for the career grand slam. Nonetheless, Mickelson's early season struggles with taxes would resurface as he would have to pay 60 percent of those Open winnings to the state of California.
Phil, as always, had a memorable quote: "It's not making me want to go out and work any harder."
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Mickelson's career has always been compared to that of Tiger Woods, and in 2003, before he had even won a major championship, Mickelson vocalized his own comparisons.
"In my mind, Tiger and I don't have issues between us," Mickelson said. "Well, maybe one. He hates that I can fly it past him now [off the tee].
11 of 13Fred Vuich/ Sports Illustrated
Also in 2003, Mickelson called out Woods' equipment company, Nike, saying that the sports brand was holding Woods' game back.
"He has a faster swing speed than I do, but he has inferior equipment. Tiger is the only player who is good enough to overcome the equipment he's stuck with."
12 of 13Jacqueline Duvoisin/ Sports Illustrated
Mickelson got an early start putting his foot into his mouth as an amateur competing in Ireland on the United States Walker Cup team, joking about the attractiveness of Irish women.
"That's not a place I want to be," Mickelson said, referring to a shot out of the long fescue near the gallery at Portmarnock Golf Club. "The Irish women are not that attractive."
13 of 13Jacqueline Duvoisin/ Sports Illustrated
It was an ill-advised joke by Lefty, definitely not timed correctly on European soil. The reaction wasn't terrific, and Mickelson soon found that out:
"I knew I was in for it the moment I said it," he said. "It was a bad joke, and I feel just terrible about it."
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