It's been 27 years since Phil Mickelson won as an amateur on the PGA Tour

By T.J. Auclair
Published on
It's been 27 years since Phil Mickelson won as an amateur on the PGA Tour

On this day -- Jan. 13 -- 27 years ago, a young Phil Mickelson won the PGA Tour's Northern Telecom Open as an amateur at TPC at Starpass. 
That victory by the then 20-year-old Mickelson -- a member of the Arizona State University golf team at the time -- also happens to be the last time an amateur claimed a victory on the PGA Tour. 
It was only the sixth time in history that an amateur won a tour event. The last to do it before Mickelson was Scott Verplank at the 1985 Western Open. No amateurs were able to turn the trick in the 1970s or the 1960s.
Lefty was also the low amateur that spring in the Masters, a tournament he would go on to win three times in his career to date (2004, 2006, 2010). 
Perhaps forgotten from Lefty's surprise victory is that he overcame a triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 14th hole in the final round that dropped him from a one-stroke lead to three behind the leaders.
Mickelson would birdie two of the final three holes for the win. He also got help from runner-up Tom Purtzer, who double bogeyed the final hole.
"I never thought I'd see anyone come back from something like that," said Corey Pavin, who played with Mickelson in the final group that day.
"I went from having the biggest knot in my stomach to the greatest joy in a half hour," Mickelson said.
This, from the Associated Press story in 1991, seems funny today:
Mickelson said he intends to complete his degree in psychology in the spring of 1992 before turning pro.
"Money is not a problem," said Mickelson, a native of San Diego. "I'm on a scholarship and my folks help me."
Mickelson won the NCAA championship as a freshman in 1989, repeated last year and added the U.S. Amateur title.
When he does turn pro, he will have a 1 1/2-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a pass through the Tour Qualifying School and a "can't-miss" label awaiting him.
Those are the rewards of his victory.
But the money went elsewhere. As an amateur, he could not accept the $180,000 first prize.
Mickelson turned out OK. That Northern Telecom win was the first of 42 to to date on the PGA Tour. He's won five major championships, been on a record 11 consecutive U.S. Ryder Cup teams (possibly 12 later this year), is a World Golf Hall of Famer and has banked $84,045,437 in on-course earnings, which is second all time.