Sobel: Phil Mickelson’s Rise to Social Media Stardom Is Just the Start
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Phil Mickelson
- Jason Sobel details Phil Mickelson's rise to social media stardom and what Lefty has in store for his followers.
Five-time major champion. Hall of Fame inductee. Greatest left-handed golfer ever.
Other than an elusive U.S. Open victory, there aren’t many holes in Phil Mickelson‘s lengthy resume — and yet, he’s recently created a new honor that he never knew he even needed.
Social media savant.
On August 22 of 2018, one day before the opening round of the first FedEx Cup playoff event, Mickelson’s Twitter career began with a message very much like most first tweets – except most others don’t receive 41,000 retweets.
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) August 22, 2018
Since then, his social media presence, which now also includes the creation of his own Instagram account and Facebook page, has been a whirlwind of calf-raising and thumb-numbing, with an appropriate amount of needling fellow players mixed in, as well.
This platform has been a perfect one for other professional golfers to showcase their personalities, with players like Eddie Pepperell and Max Homa and Joel Dahmen each growing a legion of supporters based as much on their Twitter games as their golf games.
It was an unlikely vehicle, though, for a then-48-year-old legend, one of the few golfers who didn’t need any external forces to help boost his public profile.
“I didn’t understand how strong of a medium it is to connect with people,” Mickelson recently told me. “I think it’s been a good thing.”
It didn’t take him long to figure it all out.
Among his first few tweets: A long-hair-don’t-care photo with Pat Perez (12,000 retweets); a fun, sorry “phun” tweet, complete with him doing the worm from a commercial shoot (10,000 retweets); and a GIF of him falling on some rocks in search of a lost ball (only 7,600 retweets?!).
From there, Lefty was off to the proverbial races as one of the game’s best tweeters, a characterization he politely deflects.
“I haven’t even done it for a year, so I’m not really sure I’m there yet,” he explained. “But I’ll keep working on my skills.”
Unlike his golf game, which has been in various states of disarray since winning at Pebble Beach in February, his Twitter game doesn’t need much work.
He’s ranged from the serious…
How is today’s long range sniper shooting preparing me for the Ryder Cup?
Meditation, controlling my thoughts, breathing, heart rate and connecting with the target are critical for both! pic.twitter.com/x5T817hVMF
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) September 12, 2018
To the surprisingly athletic…
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) September 30, 2018
To the self-deprecating…
High of 46 today? What is this sorcery? I’m heading back to SoCal now. It’s too cold and I’m too fragile for this.😜
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) October 15, 2018
To those aforementioned calf-raises…
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) March 22, 2019
To a classic Magnolia Lane takedown…
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) April 13, 2019
To a “phireside” chat…
First edition of “Phireside with Phil.”
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) June 18, 2019
“I’m enjoying it,” he said of social media. “I’m having fun with it. I’ve got a lot of ideas. So far, the first few ideas have gone over well and I’ve got a ton more, so it’s actually been a nice little vehicle to get some of my ideas out.”
For now, though, those ideas are on hold.
On Sunday, he posted a video from Ireland in advance of this week’s Open Championship, during which he revealed he’d recently gone on a retreat and lost 15 pounds while fasting.
“I haven’t felt good about myself and the way I’ve been playing, so I haven’t done anything or wanted to be in public,” he explained. “The last 10 days, I’ve done what I call a hard reset, to change and try to make things better. … I don’t know if it’s going to help me play better or not, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get my best back.”
>> For Jason Sobel’s latest British Open analysis, check out our hub here.
Whether his game improves immediately or remains a gradual progression, he’s far from done on social media.
When we spoke, Mickelson hinted that what we’ve witnessed in less than a year might only be the tip of the iceberg, with plenty more tricks remaining up his sleeve.
“I don’t know how it’s going to go over,” he admitted, “but we’ll see.”
If it’s anything like the first 11 months, it’ll go over with similar acclaim.