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From ASU to AARP: The amazing transformation of Phil Mickelson through the years

September 25, 2019

Much like his career on the course, Phil Mickelson's physical appearance has seen its share of ups and downs over the years. No, we're not saying Lefty's body ever, at the extreme, resembled that of John Daly's. But let's acknowledge that he has had many of the same awkward-looking phases that every middle-aged dad goes through. It didn't help that in the late 1990s and early 2000s all that was available to tour pros regarding golf apparel were extremely baggy shirts and even baggier pants that, with the help of the camera, added a few extra pounds.

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From ASU to AARP (we know you're not 50 yet Phil, but the day of reckoning is coming), Lefty has sported many looks. Right now, he appears in as good a shape as ever, a product of the coffee and water diet he's been raving about. At 49, to look like your best self is an impressive accomplishment, so we decided to go back and take a closer look at his journey to a lean, mean Phireside-chatting machine. It still remains to be seen if it will lead to some good golf (his best finish post-fasting period is a T-48), but one thing is for certain: No matter how Phil has looked throughout his career, he's produced legendary on-course results. For his latest trick, he's going to attempt to win on the PGA Tour in his 50s while looking like he's starving himself. If anyone can do it, it's Phil.

'Arizona State' Phil

David Madison
PGA TOUR Archive
Stephen Dunn
David Cannon

Long, lanky and baby-faced Phil won three individual NCAA Championships as a Sun Devil, still tied for the all-time record with Ben Crenshaw. He also became the first lefty to win the U.S. Amateur in 1990. By far his most impressive feat at this stage of his career was winning the 1991 Northern Telecom Open as an amateur, which made him just the sixth amateur to ever win a PGA Tour event (and still the last).

'Just turned pro' Phil

Gary Newkirk

Gary Newkirk

J.D. Cuban

Sam Greenwood

J.D. Cuban

Still long and lanky, Lefty and his popped collar began delivering on all the promise he showed in Tempe. He won twice in 1993, his first full season on the PGA Tour, then once each the next two years. It was 1996, however, that was his true breakout season, as Mickelson won four times, finished third at the Masters and made nearly $1.7 million, leaving him only behind Tom Lehman on the tour's money list at the end of the season. In 2019, $1.7 million is what you get for winning one tournament (or finishing sixth at the Tour Championship).

'Late 20s, becoming a dominant player' Phil

Simon Barnett
Craig Jones
Jamie Squire
CARLO ALLEGRI
Augusta National
MediaNews Group/Daily Review via Getty Images

Two wins apiece in 1997 and 1998, then came an explosion of a season in 2000, when Mickelson won four times, three victories coming before his 30th birthday. Young, skinny Phil had 16 tour wins already and GOAT potential.

'Early dad years, still looking for a major' Phil

Harry How
Scott Halleran
Harry How
David Cannon
Jamie Squire

As mentioned earlier, the baggy-shirts, baggier-pants combo did no favors for the middle-aged men of the late 1990s, early 2000s PGA Tour. Can you imagine Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson wearing shirts that resemble ponchos in 2019? Would be a hilarious sight. Despite what looked like very restrictive clothing to the golf swing, Mickelson won five times between 2001 and 2004 before finally …

'Masters champion' Phil

David Cannon
Andrew Redington
TIMOTHY A. CLARY

Nothing bad to say about this look. The man was GLOWING.

'One-too-many waffles' Phil

Hunter Martin
Stan Badz
Harry How
STAN HONDA
Jamie Squire
Michael Cohen

You know that story Paul Azinger has told 700 times during broadcasts about Lefty scarfing down waffles at breakfast before a tournament one morning? I think that was during this Phil Phase. Again, we're not comparing him to Tim Herron, but I don't think Phil was counting calories in his mid-to-late 30s. And yet, these were some of his best years. He won the 2005 PGA, the 2006 Masters and the 2007 Players sporting a dad bod. Not bad!

'40 is the new 30' Phil

Michael Cohen
Andrew Redington
David Cannon

I'm not saying someone gave Phil P90x for his 40th birthday, but I'm not not saying it either. It should also be noted that this was right around the time Mickelson announced he had psoriatic arthritis, which actually caused him to go vegetarian. Perhaps the new diet played a role in him slimming down.

'Oh no, the dad bod is back' Phil

Harry How
Harry How
Harry How
Andy Lyons

Since turning 40, Phil has never gone back to his 2005-2007 ways, but around 2012 and 2013 the mini dad bod made a comeback. Once again, he did just fine on the course, and he actually looked prettayy, prettayy, prettayy good when he won this thing:

Rob Carr

'Swole patrol' Phil

Jamie Squire
TIMOTHY A. CLARY
Jamie Squire

Before Phil's "calves like Adonis" phase came his "curls for the girls" phase. Goodness gracious look at those pythons!

'Pre water/coffee-fast' Phil

Chris Condon
Stan Badz
Streeter Lecka
Andrew Redington
Drew Hallowell
Gregory Shamus
Warren Little

This version of Phil was an integral part of a winning American Ryder Cup team, and this version snapped a lengthy win drought in 2018 in Mexico and then added a 44th career victory at Pebble Beach this past season. Not rail-thin by any stretch, but he was obviously in good game shape.

'Please someone get this guy a cheeseburger' Phil

John Dickson
Stuart Franklin
Andrew Redington
Andrew Redington

The new Phil is looking SLIM AF. This Phil certainly isn't eating waffles, and I'm not even certain he's consuming a single carb. Whether or not it will lead to on-course success is something we'll find out starting this week at the Safeway Open, where Mickelson will be making his 2019-'20 debut. He's played in only four tournaments since his six-day fast, which helped him lose 15 pounds prior to the Open Championship. That week at Royal Portrush he missed his third straight cut, something he had not done on the PGA Tour since 2007. He didn't fare much better in the weeks to follow, finishing 57th in a 63-man field at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude, T-71 at the Northern Trust and T-48 at the BMW Championship. But four starts is too small of a sample size to write off the super-svelte version of Phil yet. Don't be surprised if Phil wins again this season and starts the post-victory press conference with "you know, it's really not that hard to drop 20 pounds. … Allow me to explain."

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