PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Phil Mickelson's connection with Pebble Beach runs deeper than his four victories.
It's the coin in his pocket.
Mickelson's grandfather, Al Santos, grew up in Monterey and had to leave school in the fourth grade to go to work. He was a caddie at Del Monte Golf Course, and was among the first caddies to work at a new golf course that opened in 1919 called Pebble Beach.
"He always felt poor, and there were many days where he wasn't able to eat," Mickelson said.
Santos kept in his pocket a silver dollar from 1900 that he never spent. Instead, he rubbed the coin whenever he felt poor, a small comfort to know that he had money. He died in 2004, just months before Mickelson won the first of his four majors.
"I have that silver dollar today, and I've used it during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am as a marker, and will continue to do so," Mickelson said in a conference call last month. "And he used to work, I believe, for 35 cents a bag around that course. And it's just a cool feeling to have the money that he cherished and also to see what we are now playing for in prize money, and how far the game of golf has come. It's a great reminder for me."
With his win last week, Mickelson is approaching $69 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour.
Mickelson said his grandfather gave him an old Krugerrand that he keeps, along with some 50-cent pieces Mickelson's father gave him, and military coins he has collected over the years. But that 1900 silver dollar is special.
"His silver dollar is the one I prefer to mark with, especially in the competition at Pebble Beach," Mickelson said.