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Daniel Wilco | | June 2, 2021

Phil Mickelson's college career: Records, history, achievements

Highlights from Phil Mickelson winning 1992 National Championship

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.

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Phil Mickelson's college career at Arizona state 

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.

Full NCAA Division I men's golf team championship history

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.

Mickelson shined as a Sun Devil

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

MORE GOLF HISTORY: Men's college golfers with the most NCAA titles

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:

Year Tournament Scores/Total Place
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
Freshman 1988-89 14 3 10 7 72.14
Sophomore 1989-90 14 4 11 10 70.82
Junior 1990-91 11 4 11 8 70.08
Senior 1991-92 12 5 11 9 69.95

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.

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