Phil Mickelson made history three weeks ago, with the 50-year-old becoming the oldest man to win one of golf’s major championships.
In February, at age 43, Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady became the oldest person to play in (and win) a Super Bowl.
The two are friends and golf partners, and Monday in meeting with reporters before this week’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Mickelson said the seven-time Super Bowl winner has been an inspiration to him.
“I’ve been fortunate to spend time with him, and when I’m around him I learn a lot,” said Mickelson, who was paired with Brady last year in a made-for-TV charity match in which they lost to Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning.
“I learn a lot by just watching and observing the dedication, the hard work. When we would go play at Augusta and he’d stay at the cottages, he would be up hours before we played. He would go to the gym and do a bunch of band work for an hour just getting his shoulders and knees and hips and everything firing and activated.
“He’s very disciplined in what he eats and recovery and taking the time to do the right things after the round and so forth. It’s inspiring to see, because when you see somebody do it and do what he’s doing, which is play football at the highest level at an age that really nobody else has ever done it, it’s inspiring, and it’s motivating. When you see it happen, it’s much easier to do.”
Mickelson and Brady will team up again July 6 to face Bryson DeChambeau and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Capital One’s The Match at The Reserve at Moonlight Basin in Big Sky, Mont., which will air on TNT.
Last year, in The Match: Champions for Charity at Medalist Golf Club, which raised $20 million for COVID-19 relief, the competitors were drenched by the South Florida rains.
Brady hacked his way through the first six holes before spinning back a wedge to hole out on the seventh. He eventually found his footing, although he and Mickelson ultimately lost 1-up to Woods and Manning.
“He played really well the back nine,” Mickelson said of Brady, “and when we’ve played, he plays a lot better than what you saw on the front. He just hadn’t been playing at that time so his game wasn’t sharp and he just didn’t quite have it that day. It almost made him more human because he excels at everything he does. To see him struggle like that was very humanizing, I thought. I thought it was a good thing.
“Then the back nine he kind of clutched up and played and hit some shots, and we made a good move at it and ended up losing 1-up. The way he can mentally slow down when things aren’t going well and process it and then start to perform is another trait that you learn from him.”
Mickelson, who has been runner-up in the U.S. Open a record six times, needs that trophy to complete a career grand slam, something just five golfers have accomplished: Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen.
That this U.S. Open is taking place in Mickelson’s hometown adds another layer of drama.
As Mickelson was on his way to victory in the PGA, Brady heaped praise on him in a text to the Los Angeles Times:
“He’s so committed and such a great athlete,” Brady wrote. “It’s a pleasure to see him compete. His love of the game is inspiring to us all and he is always looking for ways to improve mentally, physically and emotionally! Just great to watch.”