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Super-rare Mickelson memorabilia auction could be a good indicator of LIV's popularity

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The Golf Auction is presenting the ball and glove Phil Mickelson used to finish out his victory at the 2005 PGA Championship.

With all the secrecy (and burner social-media accounts) surrounding the ongoing PGA Tour-LIV mating ritual, it's hard to get a real barometer on where things stand when it comes to the golf-consuming public. One real-world representation of that mythical "heat index?" A genuine piece of hyper-rare golf history up for auction this week.

The Golf Auction is presenting the ball and glove Phil Mickelson used to finish out his victory at the 2005 PGA Championship—a bit of tournament-used major championship memorabilia that rarely comes up for sale. Mickelson publicly credited Baltusrol director of golf Doug Steffen for some local knowledge about the Lower Course's tricky greens that meant the difference between making and missing a key putt on No. 4. Mickelson finished out his final-round 72 by hacking a majestic flop shot out of deep greenside rough to tap-in range to get up and down for birdie and beat Thomas Bjorn and Steve Elkington by a shot. He signed that ball and the glove he wore that day, personalizing the glove to Steffen and thanking him for his intel.

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The Golf Auction matched the ball to high-resolution photographs of Mickelson marking his ball on the 18th hole during the final round of the 2005 PGA Championship.

Mickelson has long been one of the game's most popular players, and it will be fascinating to watch how the sale plays out—and if Mickelson's new, outspoken LIV affiliation has put a dent in his golf-memorabilia market value. Ironically, Mickelson's generosity about spreading the autograph love makes his signature less valuable than the harder-to-pin-down players like Tiger Woods, but truly special Lefty pieces have a track record of strong performance.

In December 2022—just as the LIV heat was ramping up—a Scotty Cameron putter Mickelson used to win the 2002 Greater Hartford Open went for $44,401 in a Golden Age sale. That lot came with solid-gold provenance in the form of an authentication video Mickelson personally made about the club. The glove and ball lot has backup almost as good—Steffen wrote a letter documenting how he got the items, and The Golf Auction photo-matched the ball to high-resolution photographs of Mickelson marking his ball on 18 that PGA Sunday. Plus, even though Mickelson signatures are common, Lefty-signed balls are vanishingly rare. They're the one thing he won't sign when he walks the ropes at an event, and he has reportedly never done a corporate event or signing that included signed balls.

The Mickelson lot is one of a handful of marquee offerings in The Golf Auction's May sale. The co-headliner is perfectly timed to coincide with this week's PGA at Valhalla: Former PGA President Allen Wronowski's 2008 Ryder Cup trophy presented to him in conjunction with the 16.5-11.5 American victory at Valhalla that year.