Apparently Phil Mickelson is taking the research part of his participation on the PGA of America's U.S. Ryder Cup Task Force pretty seriously. How else do you explain the five-time major champion, who became rather vocal about the dynamics of overseeing a golf team after the Americans' loss at Gleneagles in September, accepting the job as an interim assistant coach for the Arizona State men's golf team?
Mickelson is an ASU alum, having won three NCAA individual titles while playing for the Sun Devils from 1988-92, as well as leading them to a team title in 1990. When alma mater calls, it's hard to say no.
Mickelson's new boss will be his younger brother, Tim (shown with Phil at an ASU football game), who is in his fourth year as the Sun Devil men's head coach. When family calls, it's hard to say no.
Phil isn't giving up his day job to suddenly start driving a van. He will continue to compete on the PGA Tour in 2014-15.
There is that interim tag on the job title. Tim Mickelson says he isn't sure when he will hire a full-time assistant (the job came open in September), but it will likely happen some time in the first half of 2015.
If you care to connect these dots, you can see why Phil's hiring seems particularly inspired. NCAA rules restrict how Lefty could interact with the team and with potential future Sun Devils as merely an alumnus of the program. But as part of the coaching staff, he can be involved with the team on a daily basis, not to mention be part of the recruiting process for the team.
(Did we mention the first day that college teams can officially sign high school seniors to national letters of intent is Wednesday?)
Apparently Phil has already been pressed into service on the recruiting front. Australian junior standout Ryan Ruffels was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald last week as having been contacted via phone by Phil in hopes of swaying him to come to Arizona State. The story goes on to say that Ruffels intends to see Mickelson when he visits the United States next month.
Photo: AP Images