Phil Takes Your Questions!

Phil Mickelson interacting with fans at the 2010 Masters.
Robert Beck/SI

He's the people's favorite player. So we let you—the people—interview Phil Mickelson. His greatest shot ever? His best buddies on Tour? The latest on Amy's condition? Lefty will now take your questions.

Phil, what's the best advice your dad ever gave you?
Chris Bakkies, Las Vegas, Nev.

Chris, the best advice he gave me was to always have something to fall back on. When I was 9 years old I told my Dad I wanted to play golf professionally. He supported me in that, but he also told me to be sure to get an education. That's why I stayed in school and graduated after I won in Tucson [in 1991] as an amateur. And every day I'm happy that I did.

You're my favorite player ever. What are the three greatest shots you've ever hit?
John Jarvis, New York City

For No. 3, let's go with a 2-iron I hit on the 17th in the Valderrama Ryder Cup [in 1997] when I was paired with Tom Lehman. The pin was about two paces above the water, and I hit it from the right rough to about 4 feet. We didn't win the match, but it was a cool shot under the circumstances. No. 2: holing the pitching wedge on 14 Saturday at [this year's] Masters—because it's still fresh in my mind but also because it went in and led to an eagle-eagle-birdie stretch. And I'll say No. 1 was the 6-iron from the straw on Sunday [at the 2010 Masters], not because it was the hardest shot or the best shot but because it came at such a clutch time and ultimately led to victory in my favorite event.

Your family has dealt with many hardships. How have you grown and matured in the last few years?
Allen [Last name withheld], Duluth, Minn. 

Allen, every family, every individual, is going to go through ups and downs in marriage and in life. It feels great to be able to support my wife through this, and it feels great to know that she'll be there for me when I need it, too. It's been an interesting and challenging 14 months, but the long-term outlook is great. We know we're very fortunate in that regard and we're deeply grateful for that.

  Can you discuss the conversation that you and [your caddie] Bones had before you hit it off the pine needles [on No. 13] at the Masters? If I was your caddie, I would have tackled you. Did he try to talk you out of it?
Dave Devers, Perrysburg, Ohio

Bones asked if I was sure three times without saying "lay up." I think he knew he was going to lose that argument and was just trying to feel me out.

How many autographs do you think you've signed in your career?
Riley Dale, Branson, Mo.

I don't know how many times I've signed. I don't sign before or during the round, so I set aside time after the round for 15 or 20 minutes to show appreciation for fans who come out and support the game of golf. I average a little more than 200 in that time frame.

How do you see the "escape" on recovery shots where others, like me, only see trouble? Is it your imagination? Also, I wish you all the best for your family's continued good health.
Keith Carter, Jonesborough, Tenn.

Our family is doing great, Keith, thanks for your concern. When you're in trouble as much as I am, you tend to see things others do not. It's also a matter of trusting both your decision and your ability to hit the shot.

  If you had to drive on a cross-country trip with three other Tour players, who would you take and why?
Peter Hoefs, San Ramon, Calif.

Fred Couples, because he's entertaining without trying to be or even knowing that he is. Dustin Johnson, because he never backs down from a bet. And Justin Leonard, because we'd need a stabilizing force. 

You're a huge sports fan. What's your dream non-golf sports job?
Owen Cook, Los Angeles, Calif.

I grew up watching Dan Fouts play for the Chargers and have loved the team ever since I was a kid. So I'd like to be the quarterback of the San Diego Chargers. 

Are you more motivated to win when Tiger's in the field?
Dan Roadhouse, Red Deer, Alberta

Dan, I agree that Tiger brings out the best golf in me.

As a fellow lefty, I caught a lot of grief as a kid from half-drunk hacks sitting near the first tee. ("Hey, you're on the wrong side of the ball!") What kind of heckling did you hear?
Brandon Pence, Richmond, Utah

I received much of the same heckling as you did, Brandon, but I was able to use it to my benefit. It always led to friendly wagers.

Who would you say had the greatest swing of all time?
Kevin Marks, South Bend, Ind.

In my opinion, Sam Snead had the greatest swing. I can identify with it because he was a taller, big-arc, rhythmic swinger who created power through leverage rather than brute force.  

Phil, YOU ARE MY FAVORITE! My question: if you had not chosen golf, what would you be doing for a living?
Colin Egan, Pisa, Italy

I don't know what else I'd be doing for a living because I love golf so much but there are certain fields that fascinate me and I think I would do well in and one of them is being a prosecuting attorney.

Phil, it seems like you are longer now than you have ever been with your driver. True? Also, if you absolutely CRUSH one, how far is your maximum drive?
Tony P., Vista, Calif.

Max carry depends greatly on altitude and air temperature. At sea level and 70 degrees I fly it 305.

Which is riskier? Hitting off those pine needles at Augusta like you did this year, or a flop shot from a tight lie around the green?
David Hogue, Minot, N.D.

The flop shot is riskier, David, because it's already a recovery shot to try to save par. Off the needles I can still get up and down to save par if I miss the green.

Phil, you're compared to Arnold Palmer a lot. What's your most cherished Arnold Palmer moment? Thanks. We love you!
Terry Purcell, Mokena, Ill.

My most cherished Arnold Palmer moment came when I played with him for the first time in my first practice round at the Masters. It was just a great four and a half hour moment.

How have you managed to get in such good shape while still eating Five Guys burgers and Krispy Kreme all the time?
—Chris Folds, Jacksonville, Fla.

Chris, I've only eaten Krispy Kreme one time in the last three years, and it was all over the Internet! Five Guys? Well, that's been another story—until my recent switch to a vegetarian diet. [Mickelson recently changed his diet after being diagnosed with arthritis.] But Five Guys and I are working on a veggie burger.

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