• Phil

  • The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf's Most Colorful Superstar
  • By: Alan Shipnuck
  • Narrated by: Alan Shipnuck
  • Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (710 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A juicy and freewheeling biography of legendary golf champion Phil Mickelson—who has led a big, controversial life—as reported by longtime Sports Illustrated writer and bestselling author Alan Shipnuck.

Phil Mickelson is one of the most compelling figures in sports. For more than three decades he has been among the best golfers in the world, and his unmatched longevity was exemplified at the 2021 PGA Championship, when Mickelson, on the cusp of turning fifty-one, became the oldest player in history to win a major championship. 

In this raw, uncensored, and unauthorized biog­raphy, Alan Shipnuck captures a singular life defined by thrilling victories, crushing defeats, and countless controversies. Mickelson is a multifaceted character, and all his warring impulses are on display in these pages: He is a smart-ass who built an empire on being the consummate professional; a loving husband dogged by salacious rumors; a high-stakes gambler who knows the house always wins but can’t tear himself away. 

Mickelson’s career and public image have been defined by the contrast with his lifelong rival, Tiger Woods. Where Woods is robotic and reticent, Mickelson is affable and extroverted, an incorrigible showman whom many fans love and some abhor because of the overwhelming size of his personality. In their early years together on Tour, Mickelson lacked Tiger’s laser focus and discipline, leading Tida Woods to call her son’s rival “the fat boy,” among other put-downs. Yet as Tiger’s career has been curtailed by scandal, addiction, and a broken body, Phil sails on, still relevant on the golf course and in the marketplace. 

Phil is the perfect marriage of subject and author. Shipnuck has long been known as the most fearless writer on the golf beat, and he delivers numerous revelations, from the true scale of Mickelson’s massive gambling losses; to the inside story of the acrimonious breakup between Phil and his longtime caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay; to the secretive backstory of the Saudi golf league that Mickelson championed to wield as leverage against the PGA Tour. But Phil also celebrates Mickelson’s random acts of kindness and generosity of spirit, to which friends and strangers alike can attest. Shipnuck has covered Mickelson for his entire career and has been on the ground at Mickelson’s most mem­orable triumphs and crack-ups, allowing him to take readers inside the ropes with a thrilling immediacy and intimacy. The result is the juiciest and liveliest golf book in years—full of heart, humor, and unexpected turns.

©2022 Alan Shipnuck. All rights reserved. (P)2022 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved

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What listeners say about Phil

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Not a fan (anymore)

This was a very insightful book! It certainly highlights the fragility of humans and also the wherewithal to bring forth the injustices. Well done Mr. Shipnuck!

2 people found this helpful

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Oh Phil!

Amazing storytelling on an amazing golfer and unique man. Alan’s storytelling is compelling and he seems to be fair in laying out all sides of Phil.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent golf biography

Phil Mickelson is one of the most popular golfers in the game’s long history. He drew many fans that would follow him at every tournament he entered, and his success has nearly equaled his popularity. He has won 45 tournaments, including 6 majors after a wildly successful college career at Arizona State. His complete story, including his recent entry into the new LIV tour, is told in this book by award-winning golf writer Alan Shipnick, who also narrates the audio version.

If a reader wants personal stories, especially from friends and family, they are present. There are not a lot of them after Mickelson turned pro, but they are present throughout the book. The best ones and most entertaining are those about his time at Arizona State, especially from his teammates. When listening to them, they seemed a lot like the Phil Mickelson a fan sees on the course – outgoing, smiling, joking – in short, just having fun. Even when he was a killer on the course, given his college record.

If one wants to read about Mickelson’s best moments on the course, especially in the majors where he has experienced both triumph and frustration (especially in the US Open, where he has finished second six times, the only major he has not won), those are present as well. The shot-by-shot descriptions are evidence of Shipnick’s experience in this type of writing. Both Phil and his wife Amy are portrayed fairly and mostly positively.

“Mostly” was used because in Phil’s case, his many controversies are covered as well and they are not used to portray him in a negative light. Just like his successful majors, any controversy one may remember about Phil is covered – the infamous press conference after the 2014 Ryder Cup, the investigation into insider trading he did to pay off gambling debts and the most recent, the LIV tour. Whether it is these or the lighter moments, Shipnick portrays Phil as a very complex individual which is more than fair. While listening, if Shipnick was making any judgements, they were not apparent and that is one of the best aspects of this book.

Shipnick does include himself in the book, including the opening story, but not overly so and does not make those parts about him, but instead how they relate to Phil’s story – a story that no matter how one feels about him, any golf fan will enjoy reading.

1 person found this helpful

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Not great not bad

I was a long time Phil fan, but his embrace of the Saudis changed that for me. In a sport self styled as one of honor, principles matter and if money is your only principle, you have failed. But for the background on the Bones breakup didnt really add any new stories perspective and writing style is not terribly engaging with simplistic repeated adjectives and phrases. I listened while walking my dog and it wad an easy listen and time filler.

1 person found this helpful

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Cringeworthy

I'm not sure what the point of this book was, could have done without all of the cool kid lingo. It came off more tabloid writing or Twitter posting than anything meant to be read more than once.

1 person found this helpful

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Hidden Admirer

I am 79. A former golfer and raised at Columbia Edgewater CC Portland, Oregon. Raised on the accomplishments of Sam Snead in particular, Palmer, and Hogan, I thought Mickelson would fit into my idols. Yes, he is a good golfing legend, but, like Tiger, not a good ambassador and in the end, not a good role model. This book seems to expose that I wish I hadn't seen.

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Who is Phil Mickelson

Incredibly well done description of a remarkable career. This book could make you love or hate Phil. In my mind both descriptions could be right or wrong depending on your prospective. The author fills your mind with check marks on both sides, but bottom line he lets you decide. Well worth the read/listen, especially if you are a golfer of any ability, and even more so if you follow professional golf to any degree. I loved the flashbacks to his career highlights and lowlights.

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Phil

The story was well written but should have been read by a professional. The author mispronounced some words and rushed so much that many sentences were unintelligible. However, the subject was quite entertaining!

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Where’s the Beef?

Narrator sounds like a 14 year old valley girl at times… Annoying! Additionally the story is thin on available details..

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Phil is the Story

liked the book loved the reading by ship !! a golf fan will enjoy the insight and frankly balanced portrayal of a golf legend and genius.