Mickelson 2000 vs 2023: Which Version Of Lefty Hits It Further?

Phil Mickelson's ability to find some extra yards in the latter half of his career has been fundamental to his longevity

Phil Mickelson
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In 2000 only one player, John Daly, averaged over 300 yards off the tee on the PGA Tour. In a tie for third place was Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III on 288.7.

It's worth remembering that Mickelson played Yonex clubs for the first eight years of his professional career, a period from 1992-2000 when he would win 17 times. At the 2000 US Open Mickelson, who would turn 30 that week, asked the then head of Titleist, Wally Uihlein, what new equipment they had coming out?

Uihlein told him of a 'Laboratory Test Ball' and that would become the game-changing Pro V1. The left-hander would then sign with Titleist – he helped design and develop the 731PM irons to offer left-handed players a more traditional blade iron choice – and he was a huge advocate of the Pro V1.

He would hype it as the biggest thing in equipment since steel shafts replaced hickory and, Phil being Phil, he even suggested that positioning the seam and the clubface could produce extra yards. In the 2003 season he was up to third on the driving distance stats with an average tee shot of 306 yards.

In 2004 he would win his first Major when he landed the Masters but he and Titleist would part ways just nine days before the Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills as he signed up with Callaway.

Mickelson's low point for driving distance came in 2013, the year he won The Open at Muirfield, when he was averaging 287 yards off the tee. For a player who was always in the upper echelons of the driving stats he was now at 93rd and edging towards his mid 40s.

By the 2017 season, at the age of 47, he was back inside the top 20 and back at 306 yards. By now Mickelson's body shape was noticeably changing. He would prioritise large periods of his training to increasing his speed – he averaged 119.5 mph with his driver at 39 and 120 mph at 48.

In May 2021 he would become the oldest Major champion when he won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. His routine now involved a healthier diet and more exercise, an emphasis on coffee, pulsed electromagnetic-field therapy for pain management, intermittent fasting to combat lethargy, neurological breathing techniques for improved focus and meditation.

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson in 2021

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Equipment wise he would go from a 45-inch driver to a 46-inch model. Before his Tour Champions debut he asked Callaway to make him a 47.5-inch driver and, from there, the manufacturers also worked on finding Mickelson find the perfect launch and spin for optimum distance.

This year, on LIV Golf and at the age of 53, he averages 299.6 yards off the tee. For some sort of reference only two players on the PGA Tour Champions, Robert Karlsson and Tim O'Neal, averaged over the golden figure of 300 yards this year.

For a good insight into Mickelson's emphasis on length he said this when playing on the PGA Tour Champions having been asked about finishing 81st for driving accuracy and still finishing first.

“So, I look at longest, like I try to hit it the farthest out here, and I was No. 1 in driving distance. “That’s the way I look at it. If you want to look at stuff that’s irrelevant, have a look at it. What I’m looking at is distance. I want to hit it — I want to fly it 305 and try to — because I’m a really good wedge player, so if I get wedges in my hand, I’m going to be tough to beat.”

Phil Mickelson’s Driving Distance Through The Years 

  • 2000: 288.7 yards (3rd)
  • 2001: 293.9 yards (6th)
  • 2002: 288.8 yards (25th)
  • 2003: 306.0 yards (3rd)
  • 2004: 295.4 yards (30th)
  • 2005: 300.0 yards (26th)
  • 2006: 300.7 yards (17th)
  • 2007: 298.1 yards (29th)
  • 2008: 295.7 yards (35th)
  • 2009: 300.1 yards (13th)
  • 2010: 299.1 yards (13th)
  • 2011 299.8 yards (22nd)
  • 2012: 294.4 yards (53rd)
  • 2013: 287.9 yards (93rd)
  • 2014: 292.4 yards (70th)
  • 2015: 300.5 yards (22nd)
  • 2016: 294.8 yards (56th)
  • 2017: 293.5 yards (89th)
  • 2018: 300.3 yards (57th)
  • 2019: 306.3 yards (19th)
  • 2020: 301.5 yards (59th)
  • 2021: 301.8 yards (54th)
  • 2023: 299.6 (28th in LIV Golf League)
Mark Townsend
Contributing editor

Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on skysports.com. He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.