Arizona State’s player profile page for alumnus Phil Mickelson has a bold headline next to his summary: “Best Amateur Ever.”
That isn’t a stretch.
While Mickelson has made a name for himself as one of the top professional golfers in history his collegiate career was among the best ever and perhaps the best.
Here’s a look back at that era, and everything Lefty accomplished before he turned pro.
Phil's back-to-back NCAA titles (and then another one)
Mickelson started his collegiate career with national titles in his freshman and sophomore years (1989 and 1990), becoming one of just seven players to earn back-to-back championships. Here is that full list:
- Dexter Cummings, Yale — 1923, 1924
- Fred Lamprecht, Tulane — 1924, 1926
- George Dunlap, Princeton — 1930, 1931
- Dick Crawford, Houston — 1959, 1960
- Ben Crenshaw, Texas — 1971, 1972, 1973
- Scott Simpson, USC — 1976, 1977
- Phil Mickelson, Arizona State — 1989, 1990
Crenshaw stands out on that list as the only player to have won three national titles in a row. He was also one of just two to win three total collegiate championships. The other? Phil Mickelson, who picked up his third as a senior in 1992 after shooting a 17-under at the Championship Course in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Thanks in part to his performance, the Sun Devils won their first-ever team national title in 1990, beating Florida by two strokes. Arizona State never finished outside of fifth place with Mickelson, coming in No. 5 in 1989, No. 1 in 1990, No. 3 in 1991, and No. 2 in 1992.
Mickelson named All-American all four years at ASU
Only four players have ever been named first-team All-American for all four years of their collegiate careers:
- Gary Hallberg, Wake Forest
- Phil Mickelson, Arizona State
- David Duval, Georgia Tech
- Bryce Molder, Georgia Tech
Naturally, Mickelson earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors every year of his career as well, and was named Pac-10 Player of the Year in his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons.
Phil Mickelson's NCAA records
Apart from the championship count, Mickelson set a few other records in his time at Arizona State.
His 72-hole total of 271 tied an NCAA record, as did his three-round total of 19-under 197. Both of those records have since been broken, but his name still appears under one record:
Lowest score (in relation to par) after two rounds: 128 (16-under par) — Phil Mickelson, Arizona State, 1992
Mickelson sets ASU record with 16 tournament wins
No player in Arizona State history has won more tournament titles than Mickelson, who won 16 of the 51 tournaments he played in during college.
That included three wins as a freshman, four as a sophomore, four as a junior, and five as a senior.
When he did lose, it wasn’t by much. He placed in the top 10 in 43 of those 51 tournaments (84.3 percent), and was top three in 34 (66.7 percent).
Here’s Mickelson's full list of collegiate tournament results:
|1988-89 (Fr.)||LSU National Intercollegiate||71-69-72=212||2nd|
|1988-89 (Fr.)||Southwestern Intercollegiate||78-78-73=229||T-31st|
|1988-89 (Fr.)||Tour Tulsa||217||3rd|
|1988-89 (Fr.)||UNLV Rebel Classic||70-72-66=208||2nd|
|1988-89 (Fr.)||Las Vegas Intercollegiate||72-72-76=220||3rd|
|1988-89 (Fr.)||Arizona/Ping Intercollegiate||74-77-70=221||7th|
|1988-89 (Fr.)||John Burns Intercollegiate||69-72-72=213||9th|
|1988-89 (Fr.)||Woodlands Invitational||73-72-75=220||16th|
|1988-89 (Fr.)||Fresno State Classic||70-69-69=208||1st|
|1988-89 (Fr.)||Forest Hills Invitational||72-71-75=218||1st|
|1988-89 (Fr.)||Sun Devil Thunderbird Inv.||73-72-79=224||T-43rd|
|1988-89 (Fr.)||Pac-10 Championship||68-76-74=218||14th|
|1988-89 (Fr.)||NCAA West Regional||71-67-75=213||7th|
|1988-89 (Fr.)||NCAA Championships||66-70-71-74=281 (-1)||1st|
|1989-90 (So.)||U.S./Japan Intercollegiate||70-72-71=213||1st|
|1989-90 (So.)||Red River Classic||72-72-74=218||14th|
|1989-90 (So.)||Golf World Invitational||70-68-74=212||T-2nd|
|1989-90 (So.)||UNLVRebel Classic||72-71-72=215||1st|
|1989-90 (So.)||Ping/Arizona Invitational||74-67-68=209||2nd|
|1989-90 (So.)||John Burns Intercollegiate||75-73-74=222||T-43rd|
|1989-90 (So.)||Golf Digest Invitational||73-72-75=220||18th|
|1989-90 (So.)||Morris Williams Intercollegiate||75-71-70=216||3rd|
|1989-90 (So.)||Fresno State Classic||72-71-67=210||2nd|
|1989-90 (So.)||Sun Devil Thunderbird Inv.||71-70-69=210||2nd|
|1989-90 (So.)||Pac-10 Championship||65-69-73-71=278||1st|
|1989-90 (So.)||Ping/Oak Tree Intercollegiate||68-73-67=216||4th|
|1989-90 (So.)||NCAA West Regional||70-67-71=208||T-3rd|
|1989-90 (So.)||NCAA Championships||75-68-70-66=279||1st|
|1990-91 (Jr.)||Colorado Invitational||68-70-69=207||1st|
|1990-91 (Jr.)||Golfweek Invitational||73-70-70=213||2nd|
|1990-91 (Jr.)||Red River Classic||69-64-72=205||2nd|
|1990-91 (Jr.)||Golf World Intercollegiate||68-70-70=208||2nd|
|1990-91 (Jr.)||Rebel Classic||70-76-70=216||3rd|
|1990-91 (Jr.)||Golf Digest Invitational||69-68-67=204||1st|
|1990-91 (Jr.)||Morris Williams Inv.||69-70-68-207 (-9)||1st|
|1990-91 (Jr.)||Sun Devil Thunderbird Inv.||68-68-68=204 (-12)||1st|
|1990-91 (Jr.)||Pac-10 Championship||72-72-74=218||T-10th|
|1990-91 (Jr.)||NCAA West Regional||72-72-71=215||T-4th|
|1990-91 (Jr.)||NCAA Championships||74-70-70-75=279||T-4th|
|1991-92 (Sr.)||Tucker Intercollegiate||72-70-70=212 (-4)||T-2nd|
|1991-92 (Sr.)||Ping/GOLFWEEK Preview||71-70-71=212 (-4)||8th|
|1991-92 (Sr.)||Red River Classic||73-74-67=214 (-2)||T-6th|
|1991-92 (Sr.)||Golf World/Palmetto Dunes||68-69-69=206 (-10)||1st|
|1991-92 (Sr.)||UNLV Taylor Made Classic||72-69-68=209 (-7)||T-1st|
|1991-92 (Sr.)||Ping/Arizona Intercollegiate||68-71=139 (-5)||T-1st (lost playoff)|
|1991-92 (Sr.)||Golf Digest Invitational||73-67-67=207 (-9)||1st|
|1991-92 (Sr.)||Ping/American Invitational||71-77-73=221 (+5)||T-20th|
|1991-92 (Sr.)||Sun Devil Thunderbird Inv.||65-71-73=209 (-7)||1st|
|1991-92 (Sr.)||Pac-10 Championship||72-74-70-69=285 (-3)||3rd|
|1991-92 (Sr.)||NCAA West Regional||67-65-71=203 (-13)||2nd|
|1991-92 (Sr.)||NCAA Championships||63-65-69-74=271 (-17)||1st|
And here’s a breakdown of how Mickelson performed in each one of his collegiate seasons:
|Season||Years||Tournaments played||Tournaments won||Top 10||Top 3||Stroke average|
Phil wins US Amateur champion, joins Jack Nicklaus
When Mickelson won the 1990 US Amateur, defeating Manny Zerman 5&4 in a 36-hole final at Cherry Hills Country Club he became the first left-handed player to ever win the event. That win put him in great company, making him just the second golfer to win both the US Amateur and the NCAA championship in the same year. The first was none other than Jack Nicklaus.
Tiger Woods, Ryan Moore and Bryson DeChambeau would go on to accomplish the feat as well.
Mickelson sees more amateur success, wins on Tour
One of his most impressive amateur feats came in 1991, when Mickelson shot a 16-under 272 in the Northern Telecom Open to beat Bob Tway and Tom Purtzer by one stroke and capture his first PGA Tour win. But how he did it was even more impressive. After building a one stroke lead through 67 holes, Mickelson posted a disastrous triple bogey on 14, dropping him to three back of the lead. He would recover beautifully, birdieing two of the final holes to reclaim the lead.
The 20-year-old became just the second amateur since Gene Littler in 1954 to win a PGA Tour event, with the other being Scott Verplank in 1985.
Mickelson would go on to finish as the Low Amateur in the 1990 US Open (T29), the 1991 Masters (T46), and the 1991 US Open (T55)
Mickelson represents US in amateur international play
Mickelson would also represent the United States in the Walker Cup — the amateur version of the Ryder Cup — in 1989 and 1991. His first appearance, at Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta saw him go 1-0-1 in singles and 0-1-1 in foursomes as Great Britain & Ireland would win 12 ½ to 11 ½ .
But after Mickelson posted a 2-0 singles record and 1-1 foursomes record in 1991’s contest at Portmarnock Golf Club in Dublin, the US would win 14 to 10.