Phil Mickelson: The People's Champion

Phil Mickelson: The People’s Champion

Marc Calcavecchia Thursday at Turnberry


While he lives life in the public eye,
in private Phil Mickelson has long been
a generous (and silent) supporter of
needy causes. Here are three stories
that show how Phil pays it forward.

Last year Mickelson’s Smart Start program gave disadvantaged San Diego children clothes and school supplies. “Phil was in the Wal-Mart parking lot at 5:30 a.m. helping kids, shaking their hands,” says Lindo Park Elementary principal Ginger Van Zant. “The kids were agog, and they loved to meet his kids, who were little helpers. Homeless families are really struggling, and they couldn’t comprehend getting two pairs of shoes at once. They were like, ‘I get to choose another pair?’ It set a tone for the school year so that the kids could be the best they could be.”

During the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol, Mickelson met John Finn and his wheelchair-bound son David, who has a central-nervous-system disorder. Minutes after Mickelson won the title on Monday, he invited David onto
the green. Says John, “We have the greatest photo you’ve ever seen: Phil with the trophy in his right arm, his left arm on David’s shoulder in his wheelchair, and my wife and I. David was thrilled.”

After contributing $250,000 to Hurricane Katrina relief, Mickelson pledged to donate his prize money from the 2006 Zurich Classic in New Orleans. He finished T15, but decided that $ 81,720 was insufficient and added another $250,000. Habitat for Humanity built two homes in the Lower Ninth Ward in Mickelson’s name, one for cellist and singer Helen Gillet. “I’m interested in who Phil Mickelson is as a person and philanthropist,” Gillet says. “He’s got his hands in a lot of cool things going on in the country.”

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