Phil Mickelson has been a longtime mentor to the reigning World No. 1, Jon Rahm. In fact, Mickelson’s belief in Rahm’s abilities dates all the way back to 2016, when he placed a bet with Colt Knost that Rahm would be a top-10 player within a year. Pretty nice foresight!
Phil’s brother, Tim, coached Rahm during his time at Arizona State, so to be fair, Phil had some serious insider knowledge. But according to Rahm’s coach, Dave Phillips, a GOLF Top 100 Teacher, co-founder of the Titleist Performance Institute in Oceanside, Calif., and longtime friend of Mickelson, Rahm has enjoyed being the recipient of plenty of knowledge from Lefty over the years. On this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, Phillips revealed the specific wisdom from Mickelson that he thinks has benefitted Rahm.
“Phil has done so much, not only for this game,” Phillips said. “I think in Jon’s case, with Phil, Phil challenges Jon. It gives Jon a target, in terms of — Tiger is at that level, that maybe once-in-a-lifetime. We saw Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, I would put Tiger in that category. Phil’s probably just below that. I mean, forty-something wins? We may never see a player [again] that has 40-something wins.”
Phil’s vast experience and willingness to share with Rahm has been hugely beneficial for the now world No. 1, said Phillips.
“I think Phil has been a great sounding board for Jon. It’s helped him deal with the world around golf,” Phillips said. “You know, from the media requests, what most people don’t see. It’s not just showing up and playing golf and signing a few autographs. There’s so much that these guys are asked to do. And it’s managing that. And the better you get, the more you’re asked to manage it, and you have to realize that’s gonna take time away from your practice, and that’s hard for some guys. And Phil’s done an exceptional job of that and continues to do so. So Jon’s learned from that.”
Another thing Mickelson has mastered? The art of fan interaction.
“There’s nobody better with the fans than Phil,” Phillips said, noting that Mickelson signs autographs for long periods of time even when he doesn’t play well. “Who does that? I don’t know any other player that does that, and he does that.
“And then I think in many ways, their relationship, it’s kind of fun to watch,” Phillips continued. “Because Phil will throw something and then Jon fights back, it’s like ‘I’m gonna show you.’ It’s kind of like this fight when I see them together. There’s this little bit of a rub with each other. And I think they both have tremendous respect for the other. I think on Phil’s side, he looks at Jon as like a little brother, that, man, this kid is so good. I think he’s almost excited to watch him play. But on the other side, when he tees it up, he wants to beat Jon. He wants to show that this old guy can still play the game.”
For more from Phillips, including the one thing amateurs should take away from Rahm’s game, and Phillips’ take on how this year’s major venues will set up for Rahm, check out the full interview below.