Phil Mickelson's college career at Arizona State

By Andy Wittry |
Published on
Phil Mickelson's college career at Arizona State

Before he was a five-time major winner, Phil Mickelson was arguably the greatest college golfer ever. At Arizona State, Mickelson won 16 of the 51 tournaments he played in, including three NCAA Championships, and he earned 43 top-10 finishes.

Here's a detailed look at Mickelson's college career (1988-92) and all of the tournaments and honors he won along the way.

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Three-time NCAA Champion

Mickelson is one of seven collegiate golfers to win back-to-back individual NCAA Championships and he became just the second player to win three individual titles in his college career. He won as a freshman, sophomore and senior, while setting NCAA two-round (16-under 128) and three-round records (19-under 197) in his final year of college. His 63 in the first round of the 1992 NCAA Championship was a career-low and his 72-hole total of 271 tied the NCAA record at the time.

Mickelson didn't just win, he won with all-time great scores.

Arizona State won the team title in 1990 and finished as the runner-up in 1992.

Four-time First Team All-American

Mickelson became just the fourth college golfers to be named a First Team All-American four times, joining David Duval, Bryce Molder and Gary Hallberg.

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16-time tournament winner

Mickelson won an Arizona State-record 16 tournaments across 12 different events. Fellow PGA Tour golfer and 2016 Arizona State graduate Jon Rahm is second in school history with 11 career victories.

Remarkably, Phil's college win total could've been significantly higher. He had 11 runner-up finishes, including a few tournaments in which he fell short in a playoff. He finished in first, second or third in two-thirds (34 of 51) of his career tournaments at Arizona State.

Here's a full list of Mickelson's tournament wins:

  • Fresno State Classic (1989)
  • Forest Hills Invitational (1989)
  • NCAA Championship (1989, 1990, 1992)
  • U.S./Japan Intercollegiate (1989)
  • UNLV Rebel Classic (1989)
  • Pac-10 Championship (1990)
  • Colorado Invitational (1990)
  • Golf Digest Invitational (1991)
  • Morris Williams Invitational (1991)
  • Sun Devil Thunderbird Invitational (1991, 1992)
  • Golf World/Palmetto Dunes (1991)
  • UNLV TaylorMade Classic (1991)
  • Golf Digest Invitational (1992)

Pac-10 Player of the Year

When Mickelson arrived in Tempe, Arizona, for his freshman year, it had been nearly a decade since a Sun Devil had been named Pac-10 Player of the Year. He quickly ended that drought, earning the honor as a sophomore, junior and senior, as he ended the 1990 season with seven consecutive top-five finishes, including winning the Pac-10 and NCAA Championship titles.

Mickelson finished outside of the top 10 only once in 23 tournament appearances as a junior or senior and his scoring average dropped every year to a career-best 69.95 as a senior.

Joining Jack Nicklaus

The Golden Bear is the gold standard when it comes to golfers and in 1990, Mickelson joined Nicklaus as the only golfers to win the NCAA and U.S. Amateur Championship in the same year. Nicklaus accomplished the feat in 1961, when he attended Ohio State.

Tiger Woods, Ryan Moore and Bryson DeChambeau later joined that list.

Mickelson was the first lefty to win the U.S. Amateur.

His amateur career also included a pairing with Michael Jordan – yes, that Michael Jordan – in the first round at the 1991 Western Amateur in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Mickelson shot a 67 to Jordan's 85.

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PGA Tour success as an amateur

Mickelson became just the fourth amateur to win a PGA Tour event when he won the 1991 Northern Telecom Open at 16-under. That was the start of a successful year in PGA Tour events for the junior in college.

He made the cut at the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship, finishing as the low amateur at the Masters (T46) and U.S. Open (T55). Mickelson's 3-under 69 in the first round at Augusta National made him the first lefty to shoot a sub-par round at the Masters.

By June 1992, when he graduated and turned pro, he had already played in 18 PGA Tour events, making the cut 10 times and playing in a major five times.

Walker Cup appearances

Mickelson played for the U.S. in the Walker Cup as a freshman and junior in college, helping the U.S. win in 1991. In 1989, he went 1-0-1 in singles and 0-1-1 in foursomes. The Americans defeated Great Britain and Ireland 14 to 10 at Portmarnock Golf Club in 1991 as Mickelson went 2-0 in singles and 1-1 in foursomes.

Source: Arizona State athletics