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Reviews for Phil

by Alan Shipnuck

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A probing biography of the enigmatic golfer. “[Phil] Mickelson has spent his career charming, and manipulating, the media,” writes veteran Sports Illustrated writer Shipnuck, author of The Battle for Augusta National, near the end of this eye-opening portrait of a superstar athlete who “is many things, but never boring.” In his latest book, the author seeks “to reconcile the multitudes within Mickelson”—extraordinary golfer, smart ass, loving husband, gambler, consummate professional. Shipnuck chronicles his subject’s life and game in great detail, employing excellent insider stories and quotes from a wide range of players. Early on, notes the author, Mickelson honed his short-game skills (arguably the best ever) in his backyard. “This little practice green, built and lovingly maintained by Phil’s dad, is where genius was made, not born,” writes Shipnuck, who touches all the bases when describing Mickelson’s burgeoning career, from qualifying for a PGA tournament during high school to joining Jack Nicklaus as the only other player to win the U.S. Amateur and the NCAA championship in the same year. Mickelson won his first tournament in 1991, as an amateur, and turned pro in 1992, the same year he met his future wife, Amy. As Shipnuck wryly notes, he took special pleasure in the lucrative pre-tournament gambling games and then unleashed his relentless “bomb ’n’ gouge” playing style. The author also digs into the rivalry with Tiger Woods, noting how its “antipathy was born on the playing fields of junior golf.” Shipnuck keeps it lively as he recounts Mickelson’s many wins—including his first Masters in 2004 and a much sought-after British Open, in 2013—and his election to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011. The author doesn’t shy away from his subject’s dark side, chronicling his nasty breakup with his longtime caddie, Bones Mackay, as well as “very public gambling debts [and] shady Mob-adjacent associates.” Golf and sports fans will enjoy this feisty, in-depth portrait. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.