As Mary Mickelson sat at home in California watching her boys at Kiawah, she noticed something in Phil she’d never seen before.
Late Sunday night, Tim Mickelson had a message for his parents from 30,000 feet. He and his older brother, Phil, and Phil’s agent, Steve Loy, were in the air, flying home to greater San Diego in a private plane from greater Kiawah Island, with a stop along the way, to drop off Loy in Scottsdale, Ariz. It would be close to 2 a.m. before they would arrive at tiny McLellan-Palomar Airport, near Carlsbad.
Don’t come. It’ll be way too late.
Mary and Phil Mickelson Sr. packed blankets on a cool southern California night, left their Brady Bunch-neighborhood home in which they raised their three golf-loving children — Tina (a golf instructor, and more!), Phil (a touring pro, and more!) and Tim (Phil’s caddie, and more!) — and arrived at the airport at 1 a.m. Phil Sr. is a retired Navy and commercial pilot. Pilots like early.
The plane landed at about 1:15 a.m. The parents had talked their way on to the tarmac to greet the plane and its precious cargo. Family hugs, all the way around. A five-minute reunion.
“You don’t want them to come off the plane and there’s nobody there,” Mary Mickelson said in a recent phone interview. She and her husband have made similar trips many times over the past 30 years, after wins and near-wins and on other occasions. But this one was different. For the first time, Philip (per Mary) and Tim had won a major together, the 2021 PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, flat and windy and sunbaked through the tournament. Over its four days, Mickelson shot 70, 69, 70 and 73, good for a two-shot win. He got himself quite a sunburn, too.
Penta Love knows the Mickelson parents, and she knows this whole theme, too, the playing son and his caddying brother, competing in all the big events, winning a PGA title. Mrs. Love has two children. Her eldest, Davis, won the 1997 PGA Championship with Davis’ kid brother, Mark, caddying for him. Davis, like Phil, was named for his golf-obsessed father, too.
Mary and Phil Sr. have seen Penta, and the various parents of your other favorite brand-name pros, at scores of tournaments and team matches over the years. But they watched this year’s PGA Championship from home. It was just the two of them in their tidy home with a small backyard dominated by a putting green. On that Sunday, the phone (a landline) was ringing, as people of a certain age still say, off the hook. Finally, Mary moved the phone to another room and let the answering machine take messages.
“It’s great to hear from people you haven’t heard from in years, but you don’t know if it’s going to be a minute or something long and you don’t want to miss a shot or what they’re saying on TV,” Mrs. Mickelson said.
While Phil played and Tim caddied, Tina and mother texted back and forth.
One text, from mother to daughter:
“Tina, text Philip and tell him just to par in. Don’t hit bombs or activate calves. Just pars. They will have to catch him. He won’t listen to his mother.”
They were having a good time.
They were excited and nervous.
Mary is a native San Diegan, an accomplished basketball player and a big personality. Phil Sr. is quiet and slender and he doesn’t have a bragging bone in his body. Phil Jr. takes after — take a wild guess!
Mrs. Mickelson’s father was a commercial tuna fisherman, strong as an ox and still on the high seas (though starting to reel things in) at age 50, the age Phil Jr. is now.