OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (June 26, 2017) – Phil Mickelson Day was not declared in Chicagoland Monday, but whether the Honorable Rahm Emanuel decreed it or not, it happened and it was a hit.
Mickelson, the five-time major champion and a KPMG ambassador, mixed a media tour that started in New York City and ended in Chicago; teamed with ESPN talk show host Mike Greenberg for “Phil on the Street” interviews; and served as unofficial spokesperson for the speed and comfort of the Metra rail line between Millennium Park and Olympia Fields Country Club, site of this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
He was just getting warmed up.
Before an audience of more than 800, Mickelson competed in a skills challenge against defending KPMG Women’s PGA Champion Brooke Henderson, Stacy Lewis and Lydia Ko. The foursome was tested in chipping, knocking a flop shot over an eight-foot wall and took turns hitting shots at a glass pane wall featuring Bitmojis of each golfer.
Fading a 5-iron to knock out the upper left pane, Mickelson outpointed Brooke Henderson in the finals, 22-15; while Ko had 13 and Lewis eight. “I was nervous, because I know how good they are,” said Mickelson. “It was fun to be around the best athletes in the world.”
Earlier in the day, KPMG announced that a donation from the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation will enable the KPMG Future Leaders program’s reach by 25 percent. That translates to awarding 20 college scholarships for its 2017 class.
In addition, these young women will enhance their personal growth through a leadership development retreat at Stanford University, an introduction to golf, and be paired with a woman business leader from the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit for ongoing mentorship.
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“This partnership helps to bring a lot of kids into the game and expose them to golf and give them something to aspire to,” said Mickelson. “The KPMG Future Leaders program takes girls in high school who have overcome a lot and gives them a mentorship program.
“It’s an important thing and it helps women in business, but it also exposes more people to the game of golf, which I am passionate about. As we all want to see this game grow, you want to appeal to everybody and not half the population.”
Greenberg, who carries an 8 USGA Handicap Index, was master of ceremonies for the Skills Challenge. “They called me and asked me if I would like to spend a day with Phil Mickelson, and it was something I jumped at,” said Greenberg. “His insights are so remarkable. I feel like this day will take two shots off my handicap.”
During his train commute to Olympia Fields Country Club, Mickelson offered his perspective of the future of women in the game.
“I think the LPGA as a professional golf organization has one of the greatest products that it has had in decades,” said Mickelson. “The players and the talent level of these athletes are as strong as it has ever been. The athletes are very charismatic and are very appealing, so the interest in the LPGA game is growing quickly. But whether you play professional golf or whether you play recreationally, the game of golf is such an important tool in business.
“Those four or five hours that you spend on a golf course give you real insight into your business partners. Having those four or five hours in a fun environment is what builds relationships.
“I think that there have been a lot of factors that have been strengthening the support from women golfers. If you are in a game that wants to grow, you would never want to cut out half of your potential players. You would want to be inclusive to everyone. Getting female players introduced to golf at a young age is a critical element.”