Stepping into the grill room at the Madison Club, in La Quinta, Calif., felt like crashing a helluva party. Every table was packed with pink-cheeked dudes imbibing, playing cards, rolling dice and telling tall tales about the rounds of golf they had just finished. Phil Mickelson was at the center of it all, acting as both master of ceremonies and honored guest. The Madison Club is Phil's off-season hang, a place to work on his game in perfect weather. He excused himself from his table of eight, gave me a head nod and said, "Follow me."
We wound down a hallway and up a flight of stairs and Mickelson popped open a door, ushering me into his lair, a one-bedroom bachelor’s pad built into the clubhouse. The hallway was covered, floor to ceiling, in a grid of 8 x 10 photographs in identical black frames. His entire career was captured in one short walk: trophy presentations, stolen moments with his college sweetheart Amy, boozy celebrations in various Ryder Cup team rooms, the loving embrace of his three kids, candid snaps with two generations of friends and rivals between the ropes. By the oversized velour couch three big Tour bags were stuffed with all manner of clubs.
It was Tuesday of Bob Hope week and Phil had just put in a long day of practice, trying to find his game after an off-season compromised by two sports hernia surgeries. He said he was playing "s----" and still wasn't sure if he would tee it up in the tournament. (He would, in fact, finish a solid 21st in the event now known as the CareerBuilder Challenge.) This season marks a quarter-century on Tour for Mickelson; hard to believe the boy wonder with the rakishly upturned collar will turn 47 in June. We chatted about his kids, and mine, as I set up the recording gear. Phil was relaxed and amusing. Nothing changed once I pressed RECORD…
Over the course of an hour, Shipnuck and Mickelson dive deep into a number of juicy topics, including:
Why Phil needed offseason surgery (4:01)
How Bones likes to use his yearly veto (17:05)
The dumbest shot he ever played (18:18)
His Tuesday money games (25:10)
Why settling up bets quickly is vital (29:20)
American Ryder Cup strategies (34:00)
His relationship with Tiger (39:32)
Why golf is his therapeutic release (41:15)
And much, much more...